Celtic have a handful of key figures currently competing at the World Cup for their respective nations, although one man who was notably not on the plane to Qatar was Japanese striker, Kyogo Furuhashi.
The 27-year-old – along with compatriot Reo Hatate – was a surprise omission from Hajime Moriyasu’s 26-man squad for the tournament, with the former Vissel Kobe forward having been forced to watch club colleague Daizen Maeda picked ahead of him.
Unsurprisingly, the £19k-per-week speedster revealed he was “extremely disappointed and shocked” to have not been included in the travelling party, with the 16-cap gem likely hoping to have put himself in contention amid his impressive form at club level.
While the diminutive ace endured notable frustration in the Champions League this season – failing to score in six group-stage outings – his form on the domestic front has been particularly eye-catching, having netted 11 times in all competitions thus far, including ten goals in just 13 Scottish Premiership games.
That follows a sparkling run of form last term for the dynamic machine following his £4.6m arrival at Parkhead in the summer of 2021, having scored 20 times and laid on five assists across all fronts during his debut season in Glasgow.
That impact has seemingly failed to impress the aforementioned Moriyasu, albeit it with Hoops supporters likely “scratching their heads” – in the words of pundit Chris Sutton – at Kyogo having not been selected.
That omission may well have backfired as far as Japan are concerned as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica in their second group game on Sunday, having failed to convert any of their 13 attempts on goal.
The aforementioned Maeda – who was dubbed a “headless chicken” by journalist Casey Evans – was left on the bench for that match, having been hooked after just 57 minutes in the opening game win over Germany, with it something of a surprise to see the 25-year-old selected ahead of his Parkhead teammate after scoring only four goals this season.
As journalist Matthew Mohan stated, Kyogo could well have been “useful” in his nation’s latest loss, with the forward possessing all the tools to have lit up Qatar. Political commentator Fuad Alakbarov suggested that it had been a “crazy decision” not to include the 5 foot 7 attacker in the squad and indeed that statement now rings rather true.
That call could come back to bite Moriyasu if his side does fail to progress, although as far Ange Postecoglou and co are concerned, they could well have a hungry asset on their hands who is likely raring to go when club action resumes next month.