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AFC Champions League

We have to win in Japan - Honda orders Victory to keep attacking style

10:32 AM IST 08/03/19
Keisuke Honda
The marquee superstar says his team must get three points on his return to the Land of the Rising Sun

It's been more than 11 years since Japanese legend Keisuke Honda last played a club game in his homeland.

Honda was a fresh-faced 21-year-old playing for Nagoya Grampus in the J-League, just prior to securing his European break to Dutch side VVV Venlo.

Now returning with Melbourne Victory for the Asian Champions League clash against Sanfrecce Hiroshima next Tuesday night, the 32-year-old admits he knew a rockstar homecoming was a possibility after heading Down Under, but he is only focused on three points after Victory's stuttering start to the competition.

"I knew I might be able to play Japanese team (when joining Victory) and it’s happened," Honda told the Herald Sun.

"I’m excited to go back. I have not been in the Japanese league since I left for Holland over 10 years ago, but also I was disappointed after Tuesday night.

"I have to and we have to win against the Japanese team.

"It’s not normal if we go out at this stage. We (want to) go to the next stage."

Victory went down 3-1 at home in their first ACL match against K-League side Daegu FC - even taking an early lead playing their attacking brand of football.

Honda called on Victory to maintain their positive intent in the upcoming match versus Sanfrecce, and not consistently alter their style like the Japanese national team - which he retired from after their round-of-16 exit from the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

"We lost the game but I’m proud of the club and the players," he said.

"The most important thing is the result, but we have to stick to how we play.

"We have to believe our style. I already talked with other players and also Kevin - we will play the same way in Japan.

"This can make this club succeed greatly. That (persisting with the philosophy) can make the culture - players, manager and supporters make it.

"For instance the Japanese national team we changed style every four years, depending on the manager."