With the action underway in Qatar the enormity of missing out is hitting home for Kyogo Furuhashi.
The day after Hajime Moriyasu announced his squad the Celtic striker had a cherished appearance in the Santiago Bernabeu to look forward to as the hoops completed their Champions League campaign.
Celtic had more fixtures to play, a trip to Australia to enjoy but tomorrow Japan play Germany with Kyogo looking on from afar as players he knows well from the qualifying group take to the world stage.
Despite an impressive domestic scoring record Kyogo has looked short in the Champions League but with 26 players to select from the Celtic striker seemed a likely contender for Moriyasu’s squad.
Speaking to Japanese outlet The Mainichi, Kyogo said:
My dream and my goal was to play in the World Cup. Of course, I was extremely disappointed and shocked. But this is no time to stay depressed. My football life doesn’t end here. Now I have to move forward.
I woke up early in the morning at home in Scotland to watch the press conference announcing the members of the national team, but my name was not called. I was preparing for the Champions League match against Real Madrid so I tried not to think about it and concentrated on the game in front of me.
During this time, my Celtic teammates were very supportive. I felt that everyone cared about me a lot. It would be selfish to stay depressed for ever and it would cause trouble for the team. My motto is to smile and I kept saying ‘don’t worry’ and tried to keep a smile on my face.
When I went home after the game against Real, I had the next day off. I decided to use that one day to cheer myself up. We watched films and played games. I spent the rest of the day lounging around at home. And by the time I went to training the next morning, I felt okay.
The World Cup is a stage I have dreamt of playing in since I was a child. When I was called up to the national team for the first time in 2019, my dream turned into a goal. And every time I got selected for the squad, I felt I was getting closer.
I moved to Celtic last summer because I wanted to play abroad and at the same time I wanted to play in the World Cup. I thought that if I played well abroad, the World Cup would be an extension of that.
But I wasn’t good enough. I had chances to play for the national team in the past, but I didn’t make any tangible difference in terms of being a goal scorer. I have no regrets about the path I chose. Looking back, four years ago, when the tournament was held in Russia, I was still with FC Gifu in the second division.
At the time, I couldn’t have imagined that I would be feeling such regret four years later. So it’s great that I was able to experience this feeling.
I can’t think about four years from now, but I am motivated to grow into a player who will be selected for the next edition. I will support Japan as a fan. There are players who have fought with me carrying the flag of Japan on their shoulders. I really want them to make it to the last eight for the first time.
Moving to Europe should have secured Kyogo’s World Cup place but like Reo Hatate he has slipped out of contention.
That disappointment is clearly deep but given a clear four week break Celtic could be the big beneficiaries as they restart their domestic campaign at Aberdeen on December 17.