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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Sport
Graeme McGarry

Oh Hyeon-gyu says he and Kyogo Furuhashi can make lethal Celtic pairing

HE may only be 22, but Oh Hyeon-gyu is wise enough to know that usurping Kyogo Furuhashi as Celtic’s main striker is going to be a tough assignment.

That’s why he is eyeing up a partnership with the club’s main marksman instead, saying that the combination which led to Celtic’s late winner against St Mirren on Wednesday night shows there is room for both of them in Brendan Rodgers’ attack.

Oh hit his first goal of the season with the score deadlocked and just seven minutes remaining, showing commendable composure as Odin Thiago Holm took in Kyogo’s pass and in turn, slipped the big South Korean through on goal.

He took one touch to steady himself and then another to fire home into the roof of the net and ensure that Celtic would not drop points for the second match in succession, maintaining their five-point advantage at the top of the Premiership table.

Oh’s chances of game time will likely increase over the next few weeks as Celtic’s hectic fixture schedule intensifies, and he is desperate to show he can put the lessons he is picking up from watching Kyogo at close quarters into practice on the pitch.

“Kyogo is a great player,” Oh said.

“I want to play with him in every game, so I was so happy that we combined for the goal on Wednesday.

“I think we make a good partnership. I learn from him every day in training.”

The forward believes he is improving all the time as he gets more and more used to the Scottish game, but admits he has found it difficult this season as he has struggled for minutes in a Celtic jersey, and then struggled for form when he has been thrown on.

He was relieved to get the goal that got the monkey of not scoring yet this term off his back to boost his own confidence, but also to repay his manager for the faith and support he has given him during this tricky spell in his Celtic career.

“I feel so happy to score my first goal of the season,” he said.

“It felt amazing when the ball hit the net.

“To be honest, it’s been a very difficult time for me when I hadn’t managed to score this season.

“But the gaffer said to me: ‘Always keep going, keep going,’ and I have been working hard every day in training.

“It’s been great to have that support from the gaffer. He always gives me confidence because he believes in me. That’s very important for any player. I now want to score more goals this season.

“Every football player wants to start every game but whether I get five minutes or 10 minutes I will always give my best for the team.”

Another man who finally got his first goal of the season on Wednesday evening was St Mirren striker Conor McMenamin, with his brilliantly taken early header putting Celtic Park on edge.

His team ultimately didn’t manage to hold on and take anything from the game in terms of points, but as well as boosting his own morale, his goal allowed McMenamin to take away a precious memory of scoring at such a venue in front of his young daughter, Daisy.

“It was brilliant obviously to score and get off the mark,” McMenamin said.

“My daughter was here, and it was something when I picked her up at the airport I was just like ‘Maybe it’s going to happen tonight, maybe it’s one of those things.’ “I’ll never forget that feeling, but obviously we are disappointed with the result.

“It was something I needed, and something I can hopefully take forward and score more goals.

“It’s something that I needed to add into my game, and once you get one, hopefully they start to flow now.

“It was a great cross. As soon as it left [Greg Kiltie’s] foot, I knew it was coming my way, and it was pure joy when it hit the net.

“As I said, I had my family here, my daughter here, so it was a brilliant occasion for me.

“She’s off for Halloween with the school holidays, so the fixture fell perfect for her to come over.

“When I picked her up, I just had a funny feeling it would happen, and I’m just glad it did.”

Despite the ultimate defeat, there was more than enough about St Mirren’s performance not to dent the impressive momentum they have built up under Stephen Robinson this season, with McMenamin believing their disappointment after the midweek game shows just how their expectations have shifted.

“That’s it, we were gutted in the dressing room to lose 2-1,” he said.

“That shows you how far we have come as a group and how high our standards are, to come to the champions, get beat 2-1 narrowly and be disappointed. That’s something we can take forward and move on from.

“That [belief] is something that’s come with the results we’ve had this year and with what the gaffer has instilled in us, that we’re a good side and we can come to places like this and get results.

“Obviously we got off to the perfect start, but we just couldn’t hold on in the end.

“Going forward though for the rest of the season, we can take confidence from it.”

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