Hearts star Harry Cochrane says Celtic's Eboue Kouassi is his toughest opponent

By David Walton

May 19, 2019

Hearts youngster Harry Cochrane has stated that his toughest opponent ever was Celtic’s Eboue Kouassi.

The thought may bring a few sniggers to some given Kouassi’s lack of game-time at Parkhead. The Ivorian has been out since November with a cruciate ligament injury. His season remains over as his torrid time in Glasgow continues.

Kouassi has only featured 22 times for Celtic since joining from Krasnodar in January 2017. His impact in Glasgow has been minimal, but there has been the odd impressive performance. His display at home to Zenit St Petersburg in the Europa League was a standout.

Eboue Kouassi was sensational against Zenit St Petersburg (Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)

But Cochrane’s 30-minute cameo at Parkhead back in January 2018 sticks out for him. Kouassi was in the centre of midfield that night alongside Scott Brown and Olivier Ntcham. And speaking in the Scotsman, Cochrane revealed it was Kouassi who gave him his toughest ever test.

“So, my toughest game was against Eboue Kouassi. I only lasted 30 minutes in that game before I was sent to the hospital but I just couldn’t get near him that night. I don’t know why that was, I just couldn’t get near him and that was a big lesson. It shows you where you need to get to.

“When you play Celtic you need to show no fear. They are the best team in the league, they have won it, but you need to play with no fear.

“That gives you the confidence to feel free when you are playing and they are good enough to know that if a team has fear they can take advantage of that.”

Long way to go for Kouassi

These are nice words to hear about Kouassi. Goodness knows the midfielder could do with some form of a confidence boost ahead of pre-season this year.

Hearts’ Harry Cochrane spoke glowingly of Kouassi (Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Kouassi is going to have one heck of a task when he returns to pre-season training this summer too. Not even including any new signings, he’ll have to fend off rivals such as Scott Brown, Callum McGregor, Olivier Ntcham, Ryan Christie, and Nir Bitton respectively.

A comeback is hardly impossible, but the quality Celtic have in that area must be a concern for him. Such is the high level of competition, first-team chances could be limited next season.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the end for the former Krasnodar star either. After all, half the issue is the fact that supporters don’t truly know what Kouassi brings to the side.

We could all do with seeing a bit more of Kouassi (Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

A season on loan elsewhere could perhaps give the fans, and maybe even the new management team, the chance to see what he can actually offer Celtic. As it remains, we’re all still a tad unsure due to not seeing him often enough.

It would also give him a chance to build up a case for coming back and competing in the first team. In any case, Cochrane clearly rates him, and that should mean something to Kouassi as he continues his recovery.