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Maeda plans to add to debut Celtic goal after overcoming nerves

The striker says he wants to become a leader in his new team.

Maeda plans to add to debut Celtic goal after overcoming nerves SNS Group
Celtic's new signing scored against Hibs four minutes into his debut.

Daizen Maeda overcame first-night nerves to score a debut goal for Celtic and then vowed to keep finding the net to help their title push amid the absence of Kyogo Furuhashi.

With Furuhashi still out with hamstring trouble, Maeda was given the centre forward berth as Celtic returned to action on Monday night following the cinch Premiership winter break.

The 24-year-old responded with a goal inside four minutes to send Celtic on their way to a comfortable 2-0 victory against Hibernian in Glasgow.

Maeda, who played under Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou at Yokohama Marinos, said: “I knew there was a big expectation for me so I was nervous before the game but I thought I could score a goal.

“I usually don’t get nervous but before this game I heard a lot of things and a lot of people talked to me so this is why I got nervous. Fortunately I could convert that feeling into good energy.

“I didn’t imagine that was going to happen (scoring within four minutes) but before the game I decided I would score a goal. I received a good pass from my team-mate and I just finished.”

Celtic are due to get specialist advice on Furuhashi’s injury this week but Postecoglou warned they would be without their summer signing for two to three weeks at least.

Maeda looks set to be handed more responsibility to get goals with Albian Ajeti and David Turnbull also missing and Giorgos Giakoumakis just back from knee surgery.

“If we want to be champions, we have to be a good team and we have to keep scoring, no matter who plays,” he said.

“I have to score a lot of goals. If not, the team cannot become champions. I want to be a player who can lead Celtic.”

Maeda warned he was not a like-for-like replacement for Furuhashi.

“I’m not a player with technique, I’m more like a player with heart,” he said.

“I want to show how I fight against the other team. This is what I want to show the fans.”

Reo Hatate also impressed on his debut while Yosuke Ideguchi was introduced from the bench as his countrymen went off.

Maeda added: “I would like to play with all four Japanese players, including me, so I have to keep playing every game. It will be great if all four of us play together.”