Melbourne Victory marquee star Keisuke Honda isn’t feeling pressure, but wants to overcome the challenges of n football, heading into Saturday’s A-League debut.
The classy Japanese international is one of the best-quality imports in recent times to hit .
He will be pitched straight into the cauldron of a derby match against Melbourne City at Marvel Stadium, where he played for Japan against two years ago in a World Cup qualifier.
‘We’re getting better as a team and still we need to fix some issues as a team,” Honda said at Monday’s A-League season launch in Sydney.
Having played almost 100 times for his country and for clubs in Japan, the Netherlands, Italy, Russia and Mexico, the versatile 32-year-old attacker is no stranger to high expectations.
“I’ve got used to this pressure many times, in the national team, in Italy and in Russia. I made people disappointed and also I’ve made people happy,” Honda said on Monday.
‘I don’t have any magic. I just have to do my best every day, not only training, eating, sleeping … and communicate with the team.
“I know what I should do for improvement so I shouldn’t feel pressure.
Honda has some inkling of what to expect from the A-League having played a number of internationals against .
“Obviously, I haven’t seen a lot of (A-League) games so far, but I know how the n team is strong physically,” Honda said.
“Especially, we were struggling when we played against , so I’m really excited how to overcome n soccer this year.”
Honda has followed compatriots Shinji Ono and Kazuyoshi Miura, who had A-League stints with Western Sydney and Sydney respectively.
He compared the A-League to Japan’s J-League as developing competitions, attracting more quality players from established football strongholds like Europe and South America.
“We learn a lot of things from them. I think the same thing is happening in the A-League,” Honda said.
“So I must put my experience as much as I can in this season, so hope I affect the next generations.”
Honda feels comfortable in his new environment but has quickly discovered is one country where the world’s most-popular sport sits lower in the pecking order.
“Aussie football and rugby, I’ve never seen many sports so popular and soccer is not top,” he said.
“But I think soccer is getting famous every year. It’s like the US, so I think it’s very important to watch A-League now.”