Hearts explain their approach with Garang Kuol and Yutaro Oda

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson will not rush the development of forwards Garang Kuol and Yutaro Oda as he takes a cautious approach with both players due to their age and inexperience.

Kuol, the 18-year-old Newcastle United loanee, and 21-year-old Oda are both vying for places in the Hearts starting line-up after arriving in January. As they adapt to Scottish football having played in Australia and Japan respectively until the end of 2022, Neilson is taking a patient approach.

Both players have started one game for the Edinburgh club so far, with Kuol making two further substitute appearances and Oda three. The Japanese gave his first Scottish newspaper interview to the Evening News on Tuesday and admitted he is still settling into a new life and culture.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“He is in a different continent in a different culture playing a different style of football,” explained Neilson. “We have an interpreter getting the language across to him so that he understands what we are trying to do. It's going to take time. He just needs to take his 20 minutes here and 30 minutes there.

“It's the same with Garang. He is a young kid so there are certain games he will start and others when he will come on. It's about development for both of them.”

Both players were named as substitutes for Hearts’ 2-0 Scottish Cup victory over Hamilton on Friday. Only Oda made it onto the field during the second half when he replaced Barrie McKay. Neilson is conscious that neither Oda nor Kuol have experienced Scottish football before.

“We just played a Scottish Cup tie on a Friday night on astroturf, it was bucketing down with rain, a 200-miles-an-hour game. You can actually end up hindering young players like that by putting them into those situations,” added the manager.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Hearts coaching staff have made clear the need for attackers to produce goals and assists. Oda explained during his interview how he is learning the value of those contributions in Scotland.

Yutaro Oda and Garang Kuol training with Hearts at Riccarton.Yutaro Oda and Garang Kuol training with Hearts at Riccarton.
Yutaro Oda and Garang Kuol training with Hearts at Riccarton.

“I usually play as one of the two strikers so I am required to run in behind and break the [opposition’s defensive] line,” said the Japanese. “Most of all, the manager requires me to score goals or get assists. I think this is very important because to score or assist is required more here in Scotland than in Japan. So I want to be scoring and assisting for Hearts.”