After taking in his first few sessions of practice with the national squad, Cambodia’s newly-installed General Manager Keisuke Honda expounded on his methods to fix football in the kingdom.
“I want to contribute my experience to the Cambodian national team,” the former Japanese international told reporters earlier this week. “My mission is to change Cambodian football. But of course it’s not easy and it will be a difficult game as Malaysia is a very good country, it’s very strong,” he added.
“I feel good and excited about this project. I want to give my experience to Cambodian football. Of course, this is just the beginning. We find talented people here,” he said standing alongside Argentinian Felix Agustín Gonzalez Dalmas.
Asked about his teams’ chances against regional rivals, Honda said he was learning more about his squad every day.
“Every game we have to try to win but this is just the beginning and I need to find out each player’s ability in depth, he said, standing alongside We only have a few days before we [play] Malaysia but every day I am training them and finding out more.”
The Angkor Warriors play an international friendly against Malaysia in Phnom Penh next Monday and will go up against Singapore in mid-October in preparation for the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup. Cambodia find themselves in Group A alongside Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos and Vietnam.
He is expected to be involved in Cambodia’s imminent 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign. Cambodia start their cup bid with a home game against Malaysia on November 8th in Phnom Penh. The competition will take place between November 8 to December 15 across 10 Southeast Asian nations.
Honda also briefly touched on the likelihood of a showdown with Usain Bolt – the multiple sprint Gold Medallist and world record-holder. The Jamaican recently played his first professional football game for the Central Coast Mariners.
“I didn’t know when I signed with Melbourne Victory,” said Honda, who joined Melbourne Victory last month. “It would be awesome if I can play against him.”
Honda became Melbourne Victory’s marquee signing for the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 season, joining after varying degrees of success with Italian giants AC Milan, Russian club CSKA Moscow, and Mexican outfit Pachucha. He started his career at Nagoya Grampus in 2004.
He is widely recognised as among the best Asian players in recent years and has an impressive record in the blue shirt of Japan. He has earned over 90 international caps since 2008, played at the 2010, 2014, and 2018 FIFA World Cup, and won the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, where he was voted Player of the Tournament. He confirmed his retirement from international football following Japan’s elimination by Belgium at the 2018 Russia World Cup last month.