How Hearts players fared on international weekend: Yutaro Oda disgruntled, travel issues, Kye Rowles' new role
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Seven Hearts players were on international duty over the weekend and experienced mixed fortunes. Travel disruption affected forward Kenneth Vargas and Costa Rica, whilst winger Yutaro Oda was not happy with his performance for Japan’s under-22 side.
The Australian triumvirate of Nathaniel Atkinson, Kye Rowles and Cammy Devlin were in Texas, USA, for the Socceroos’ friendly against Mexico. Goalkeeper Zander Clark and captain Lawrence Shankland are part of the Scotland squad which beat Cyprus and is now preparing to face England.
Vargas was an unused substitute in Costa Rica’s 3-1 friendly win against Saudi Arabia at Newcastle’s St James’ Park on Friday. Los Ticos then had to make an unscheduled overnight stop in Amsterdam because of flight delays on route to Croatia, where they face the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.
Oda started the second of Japan’s three AFC Under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers against Palestine. He was less than content with his display despite creating the game’s only goal for striker Shota Fujio. “It was a difficult match against a difficult opponent, but we had to do better,” he told the Japanese FA website.
“Everybody was on the same page when we scored the goal, so I am glad I was able to make that run. Although we created some close opportunities from set-pieces after the goal, I feel like we had to be more aggressive in attacking the spaces and creating plays in the attacking third.
“This was a match we couldn’t afford to lose, so I am glad we were able to win, but I am not satisfied with my own performance. I hope to do better whenever I have the opportunity to play next time.”
Atkinson and Rowles both played as opposite full-backs in Australia’s 2-2 draw with Mexico – despite Rowles being a central defender to trade. Devlin watched from the substitutes’ bench as the Socceroos took a 2-0 lead through Leicester City centre-back Harry Souttar and Hibs forward Martin Boyle. “It was an enjoyable game, obviously a hostile crowd,” Atkinson told the Socceroos website. “I thought we did well, made a couple of minor mistakes and missed out on the win. They are obviously a top side in the top 12 in the world.
“We took a two-goal lead and it's testament to the boys that we walking into the changing room at full-time disappointed not to get the win. That's a testament to ourselves that we can stick it to the best teams. We want to go to World Cups and we want to be playing the best teams anyway, so I think we are building on that. A couple of mistakes led to us not getting the win, but it's positive moving forward and we have a young team as well.
“We had a young-ish back line. Me and Kye are from Hearts so we had our Hearts full-backs. We were joking about it in the [changing] rooms. It's always enjoyable coming in, seeing the boys, hearing the Aussie accents. We have a great group of boys and got to experience the US of A and what might come for the next World Cup [in 2026]. We want to be here.”
Clark was an unused substitue in Scotland’s 3-0 Euro 2024 qualifying win against Cyprus, although Shankland did not make the bench.