AFTER playing an integral role in Celtic’s clean sweep of domestic silverware last season, Daizen Maeda has endured a brace of disappointing cup exits already this season for club and country.

After being dumped out of the Viaplay Cup at the first hurdle against Kilmarnock in August, Maeda travelled to Qatar with Japan at the turn of the year as one of the favourites to lift the Asian Cup.

But defeat in their quarter-final in Doha to Iran last weekend saw Maeda board an early return flight to Glasgow along with compatriot Reo Hatate after a disappointing campaign.

The Herald: Daizen Maeda in action for Japan against IranDaizen Maeda in action for Japan against Iran (Image: Getty)READ MORE: Rodgers on 'challenging' Celtic situation for Abada

But the Japanese forward is determined to use that double disappointment as fuel this afternoon when he aims to help steer Celtic into the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup last eight when they travel to the SMiSA Stadium to take on in-form St Mirren.

On Japan’s Asian Cup woes, Maeda said: “All the games are quite tough, but now I’m back here, switched on and thinking about the teams here.

“Everyone assumed Japan was a strong team but, as we saw in the tournament, all the other countries are improving as well. This is the reality.

“No game is very easy for us. It is difficult to win — that is what I learned from the Asian Cup and also this season.

“Having been reminded we shouldn’t have the mentality that we can just go and win. We have to feel we are a challenger for the titles and have to perform very well to get them.”

One of the key lessons Maeda feels he learnt in Qatar was that in being one of the favourites to win titles, opposition teams up their game in the quest to find any weaknesses they can exploit. And this is a feature reflected in his club football.

“I think the teams knew our weak points and they just kept doing what we don’t like them do,” Maeda added.

The Herald: Daizen Maeda in action in midweek against HibsDaizen Maeda in action in midweek against Hibs (Image: Getty)READ MORE: Celtic injury sweat as Alistair Johnston suffers fracture

“We are the ones who couldn’t really deal with that and, eventually, we lost the game.

“That was the thing I learnt through the tournament.

“[With Celtic], now we don’t have much difference between Rangers and us, so through the Asian Cup experience I know no game is easy. Every time it’s difficult.

“But having the results through this difficult period of time will give us more confidence and we will eventually be champions at the end. Hopefully we can get the results in this time period.”