Postecoglou had ‘no chance’ of keeping Celtic hero Furuhashi out of final

Posted Monday, December 20, 2021 by PA

Postecoglou had ‘no chance’ of keeping Celtic hero Furuhashi out of final

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou admitted there was no way he could have kept Kyogo Furuhashi off the Hampden pitch after the Japan forward brushed off an injury to win the Premier Sports Cup.

Furuhashi struck twice as Celtic came from behind to beat Hibernian 2-1.

The Japan international had missed the previous two matches with a hamstring injury and Postecoglou had admitted the player and his medical staff were of different opinions on his comeback date.

But the Celtic boss knew his striker would make himself available, especially with all other centre-forward options missing, and Furuhashi produced two similar goals, running beyond the Hibs defence to finish in style.

The first came within 60 seconds of Paul Hanlon’s headed 51st-minute opener and the second after a quick free-kick from Tom Rogic in the 72nd minute.

Postecoglou, who lost David Turnbull to a hamstring injury in the first half, said of Furuhashi: “From the moment he picked up the injury, there was no way he was not going to play today, irrespective of what I was saying or the medical team were saying.

“And he wasn’t 100 per cent, but I knew he would play.

“Of course there was risk, there is risk in everything. There was probably a risk in putting Dave out there, who has played so many games. It’s not an exact science. Obviously there is more risk with somebody who is coming back from injury.

“But good luck from me trying to keep him out. There was no chance. He would have snuck onto the bus and snuck onto the field at some point without me seeing.

“He just had it in his head he was going to play. He wanted to help the players and help the team and he wanted to be part of this.

Postecoglou had ‘no chance’ of keeping Celtic hero Furuhashi out of final
Kyogo Furuhashi, left, lifts the trophy (Jeff Holmes/PA)

“Having worked in Japan, I know their mentality. They are a really strong culture in facing up to their responsibilities and I think he felt responsible to go out there and help the players.”

On the goals, the Celtic boss added: “His movement is incredible but the quality of his finishing…. to have that composure in such a big game.

“It’s one thing to get into that position, but they are two world-class finishes in a big game when he knows everyone is watching him.”

Turnbull’s injury was the latest in a long line of fitness setbacks Postecoglou has faced in his first six months as manager.

“I’m just really proud of this group of players, as much as players as a group of people, and the staff, because pretty much from the day I walked in the door, we have had some sort of challenge in front of us, almost on a daily basis, that we have had to overcome,” the Celtic boss said.

“They have always found a way to do that and haven’t found excuses and really believed in what we are trying to build here.

“Every time you thought ‘This is becoming too much, how can we overcome this obstacle?’. Even today, the first time they were in our box, they scored, and you are thinking ‘Here’s another one’.

“The response was what it has been from the moment I arrived. Hitting back straight away was brilliant for us because if anything it gave us a bit more momentum.

“I am just really proud of this group of people who got their rewards and I am really privileged to be part of it.”

Hibs caretaker manager David Gray felt aggrieved over decisions from referee John Beaton. Specifically, the decision to penalise Hanlon for an aerial challenge on Liel Abada which led to Rogic finding Furuhashi for the winner, and also the failure to award a late penalty when Carl Starfelt appeared to push Ryan Porteous.

“I thought we were good in the game and the boys gave me absolutely everything,” Gray said. “The disappointing thing for us is you go in front and then to lose a goal so quickly is a massive blow.

“The second goal from our point of view defensively is not good enough but I don’t believe they should have been defending a free-kick in the first place.

“If that’s a foul then I have no idea how it’s not a penalty late on. I don’t see how one can be a foul and the other is not. I don’t get it at all.”

There were offside appeals at both goals.

“The first one is very tight, it’s hard to see,” Gray said. “You can hardly see the other side of the pitch because of all the smoke from the goal. Regardless of whether he is onside or off, it’s too easy from our point of view.

“The second one, again I think we switch off. But he’s not offside for the second one.”

Gray has taken charge of three games since Jack Ross was sacked but Hibs are expected to appoint Shaun Maloney as manager early in the week.

“Now the game is done we will dust ourselves down and I am sure the powers that be will let us know what direction we are moving in,” Gray said.


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