Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japan’s Honda admits ‘mistakes and failures’

Japan’s Honda admits ‘mistakes and failures’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda has been the general manager of Cambodia’s national team since 2018. AFP

Japan’s Honda admits ‘mistakes and failures’

Globe-trotting Japan star Keisuke Honda admitted to “mistakes and failures” as he pitched up in Azerbaijan’s league, but refused to give up on playing at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 34-year-old midfielder, who spent three and a half years at Italian giants AC Milan, signed for Azerbaijani outfit Neftci until the end of the season on Monday, having been without a club since leaving Brazil’s Botafogo in December.

It is quite a change in fortunes for Honda, formerly a mainstay of the national team and the first Japanese player to score at three World Cups.

Honda, who has already played for clubs in seven different countries including Mexico, Australia and Russia, said he “didn’t have any options” after a February move to Portugal fell through because of transfer regulations.

“I made a lot of mistakes and failures – that’s why I’m here,” Honda, his trademark bleach-blond crop grown out into an unkempt mane, said at an online press conference from Baku.

“Everyone said to me: ‘Why don’t you go back to Japan to play?’ [But] it’s not interesting for me any more. I’m maybe a weird person, but that’s me,” he said, adding that he likes to “challenge new things”.

But Honda, who retired from Japan’s senior team in 2018, believes he can still force his way into the squad for this summer’s coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics.

“Nothing is impossible, but it’s not an easy situation for me,” said the attacking midfielder, who hopes to be chosen as one of three overage players in Japan’s under-24 squad.

“I haven’t been selected so far so I have to show the head coach of the national team I play good here. I have ambition to show I play good again here. I think it’s possible.”

And Honda also shrugged off suggestions that his role as general manager of Cambodia’s national team, which he took up in 2018, will interfere with his playing career.

“I manage my time with the great people who work on the Cambodian national team project,” he said.

“First, I can just spend a lot of time as a player, and second I spend time on the Cambodian project with great people . . . It’s not difficult to manage the time.”

Honda said playing for Neftci is his “priority for now”, but refused to speculate on his plans beyond the Azerbaijan Premier League season, which ends in late May.

“I never felt that I would come to Azerbaijan when I started playing soccer.

“I didn’t expect when I started playing football that I would play in eight countries. But now, to be honest, I really want to play in more countries,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,