FORMER Australia manager Ange Postecoglou saw the nation lose 2-1 in a crucial World Cup qualifier in Japan during the week.

But the Celtic boss admitted he wasn’t too upset after he witnessed top scorer Kyogo Furuhashi and playmaker Tom Rogic perform in an all-action encounter – and walk off without sustaining injury.

The striker suffered a knee problem playing for his country at the start of last month and was ruled out for five games with Postecoglou struggling to fill his role up front after Odsonne Edouard’s move to Crystal Palace and Leigh Griffiths’ loan switch to Dundee.

PENSIVE POSTECOGLOU…the Celtic boss ponders over a question from the media.

Callum McGregor also picked up a strain playing for Scotland and had to come off in the 3-0 vicory over Ross County on September 11 which kept him sidelined until his surprise return in the Europa League Group G confrontation with Bayer Leverkusen at the end of the month.

As Postecoglou prepared his players for this afternoon’s vitally important Premiership match against Motherwell at Fir Park, he revealed: “We managed to get some work done over the break and the most important thing was to get all the players back in one piece.

“It’s a relief because the last international window wasn’t kind to us, to say the least.

“I was watching the Australia game in Japan with many lit candles, saying the odd prayer now and again!

“Australia lost, but I was glad those guys came out of it unscathed.

RISE AND SHINE…Kyogo Furuhashi shows his delight after scoring the opening goal against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

“I’m still a fan and watch it with a vested interest in the country doing well and qualifying for the World Cup.

“But you’re also a manager and have other concerns. There’s no doubt I was delighted when Kyogo wasn’t in the starting line-up for Japan.

“I was quite happy seeing Tommy jog off with no issues, that was my biggest delight.

“Tommy has been doing it for years and he knows his own body, how to deal with things.

“The players are professional in how they recover. Kyogo came back on Wednesday, had a lighter session and then a more intense one on Friday. They are both fine and ready to go.”

Celtic go into the confrontation two weeks after winning their first away domestic game since February 14 following a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Aberdeen at Pittodrie where Kyogo and Filipe Jota claimed the crucial strikes.


DUTCH TREAT…Tom Rogic in control against AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League qualifier.

The Greek-Australian, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “It was important for a number of reasons. You go in to the international break with a bit of momentum.

“Winning away from home was a bit of an issue for us, dating back to last season, so to win away at a tough place against a tough opponent was important.

“It was not a dominating performance by any stretch, we had to grind our way through it.

“Those are the results that build confidence and belief in what we are doing. It kind of eliminates the away form question, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

“All of the away games are really challenging for us and Motherwell will be no different.

“They have started the season well. They will be feeling good about themselves so it’s important we are on our game.

“We’re not going to dominate like we do at Celtic Park but that doesn’t mean we change our approach.”

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report and best in action images from Motherwell v Celtic this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.



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