Daizen Maeda opens up on new Japan role as Celtic star used in defensive position

Daizen Maeda has opened up on the new defensive role he has been handed by Japan.

The Celtic forward was utilised at wing-back by his country as they took on Myanmar in a World Cup qualifier, winning 5-0. Manager Hajime Moriyasu used him in the unfamiliar, more defensive, role as a substitute as the Japanese cruised to a vital three points in qualifying for the 2026 tournament in Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

Moriyasu has been tinkering with his formation in recent games and we previously told how Maeda's Celtic teammate Reo Hatate was played at attacking midfield before being moved out to a wide position. Maeda is of course renowned for his energy levels and ability to press and harry an opponent, so wing-back does see to make sense although Brendan Rodgers is unlikely to replicate it.

The man himself is open to it, explaining to Soccer Digest Web: “Of course, I don’t know who will be in the match, but when I play, I have to show something different (from Keito Nakamura). The opponents will come in a situation where they need to win, so I think it will be a difficult match. I want to make sure I’m fired up.

“Wing-backs have to run longer distances and I think I can use my weapons (speed and running ability) more than other players, but it becomes hard if I do that all the time for 90 minutes.

“It’s important to use your head and think about when to come up. In a way, it’s a position I’ve never played before, so it’s fresh and I’m looking forward to it. I want to do what I can do against strong opponents.

“This season the coach changed (from Ange Postecoglou to Brendan Rodgers) and the style of football changed, so it was difficult at first, but my role didn’t change much and I was able to play well. I want to show the results of that in the last game of the season (against Syria) and finish in a good way.”