The eye-catching Kyogo moments that led Postecoglou to Celtic transfer

IT goes without saying that Ange Postecoglou’s main target for Celtic this season is to top the Premiership standings and retain their title, but there is every chance that his team may well also hit the landmark of 100 goals in a league campaign if they keep up their current strike rate.

The last team to break the century of goals in the Premiership was Brendan Rodgers’ all-conquering Celtic side in the 2016/17 season, when they scored 106 goals in their 38 matches, an average of 2.79 goals per game. The current Celtic team have hit a hugely impressive 69 already in 22 matches so far this term, averaging 3.14 goals per game.

That average was of course helped by a 9-0 hounding of Dundee United, but it is matches such as those that Postecoglou says exemplifies the reason why his team have managed to be so prolific; because they are able to maintain their hunger for goals even after the game is won.

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“Everything’s viable but you’ve got to keep the process of playing our football,” Postecoglou said. “That’s been the key so far for us.

“We’ve been really consistent with our performances and results have followed that. The way we play, irrespective of the scoreline, we continue to push for goals right up until the final minutes. Even when it’s a comfortable victory.

“We scored late again on Wednesday night even though we were 3-0 up. The way we play, we’re constantly seeking goals and that’s reflected in the amount of goals we’ve scored. It’s just part of who we are.

“People mention the number of late goals but they usually only get highlighted when it gets a result for us. But even when the result’s already done, we still play that way, it’s just part of the cultural set-up here.

“A lot of times it is people coming on who are making that contribution. Guys who don’t start take it upon themselves to want to make an impact however many minutes they play. That’s helping us as well.”

It also helps when you have a main striker in such a rich vein of form as Kyogo, with the forward banging in a double against St Mirren during the week to take him to 18 goals for the season already.

The striker may be slight of frame, but it is his fleet of foot that has allowed him to bamboozle defenders in Scotland, finding the net 38 times in just 61 games since arriving at Celtic. Postecoglou was never in doubt that he could thrive here, even accounting for the physicality of the league.

“I was pretty familiar with him,” he said. “The J League isn’t an easy league to play in, you find most strikers in the J League are foreigners because they need to be a decent size to compete. 

“But I knew with Kyogo’s movement he’d been successful there and he’s a very intelligent player, he knows where to be and how to avoid contact. He’s a helluva finisher so I never had any issues about the physical side here.

READ MORE: Ange Postecoglou provides Celtic injury update ahead of Morton

“He scored a couple of times against Yokohama but I’d noticed him before that. He did very well against us although we did beat them [Vissel Kobe] a few times. I remember our defenders talking about how difficult he was to track when he played against us.

“Yokohama played a similar kind of game model, wanted to defend pretty aggressively with a high line and he was one who, because of his movement, gave our defenders problems. I was well aware of him.”

The second Celtic player to hit double figures for goals this season was Liel Abada, who achieved that feat against St Mirren on Wednesday night despite not always being a nailed-on starter. His 10 goals have come in 30 appearances, but he has started just 13 of those games.

The 21-year-old is on course then to beat the hugely impressive 16 goals he hit in his debut season, and Postecoglou believes there is a lot more still to come from him.

“He’s been excellent and he continues to grow,” he said.

“He was excellent for us last year, he got a lot of goals and assists, and he’s doing the same this year. “We’ve still got 16 league games to go and cup games on top and he’s always an important part of our team whether he starts or comes off the bench because he’s really effective.

“He can score goals from wide areas and he’s continued to improve.”

After handing new singing Yuki Kobayashi a debut during the week, Postecoglou may look to give Tomoki Iwata some game time against Morton today in the Scottish Cup, but Postecoglou is wary of any perception he will be taking the Championship side lightly.

“I’ll put a team out I think can win the game for us,” he said.

“Tomoki’s still building up his fitness. He hasn’t played for quite a while, but he is available. He’ll be part of the squad and if we get him some game time we will. But the team that goes out will hopefully get the job done.

“There’s been plenty of cup upsets both here and down south recently, so that tells you that no opponent should be under-estimated.

“We’ve scouted them. They had a pretty strong pre-Christmas period, results haven’t been as forthcoming [recently]. But they’ve an experienced group and they’re going to be set up to make it difficult for us.

“Like every cup competition, everyone goes into it wanting to create an upset, so we’ll be ready and prepared to play our football.”

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