Keisuke Honda has a 2020 vision, and Victory should benefit

Rival fans who hope Melbourne Victory's marquee signing Keisuke Honda is only here for the money and the experience of living in Australia will be sadly mistaken.

Not only has the Japanese great said he is motivated by the challenge and his own personal motto of continuous improvement.

But Honda has a golden reason to perform at the highest level both in the domestic A-League and in Victory's Asian Champions League campaign, when they will certainly face at least one high level J-League team in the group phase.

The attacking midfielder has one last career aim – to play for Japan and try to help the national team win a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics, to be held in Tokyo.

Honda has represented his country nearly one hundred times, scored at three World Cups and was named the most valuable player in the 2011 Asian Cup in which he helped Japan to victory over Australia in the final.

But playing in his home Olympics, and emulating several family members to have competed in the global games festival, remains an ambition.

''I am not sure when I will quit my soccer career. I am going to play at the Olympics 2020 in Tokyo, I hope. That's my goal as a player," he told The Age.

''I said I would retire (from the national team) after the World Cup. But I should still be able to be selected as an over-age player for the Olympic team. I want to play because it is in Tokyo. I am sure if the Olympics is not there I wouldn't have wanted to play there.''

The Olympic Football tournament is confined to Under-23 players, although teams are allowed to field up to three squad members of any age.

Keisuke Honda is yet to take the field for Victory.

Keisuke Honda is yet to take the field for Victory.

Should Honda's form be good enough, there is little doubt that a player with his skill set – excellent dribbling skill, a dead ball specialist and a man with huge experience of big occasions – would be a great asset for the Japanese team.

And that is good news for Victory supporters as to remain in contention he will have to be playing at the top of his form: while he might be a legend of the Japanese game, there will be little room for sentiment and Japanese selectors will only pick players who will give them the best chance of winning the tournament.

Honda's uncle Daisaburo was a canoeist who represented Japan in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and his cousin Tamon Honda is a wrestler who participated in three Olympic Games in freestyle wrestling in 1984, 1988, and 1992.

Honda has been training with Victory for several weeks now and is confident he will be ready to make his debut in the season opening match against Melbourne City on October 20.

He is also adamant that his other job – as a manager of the Cambodian national football team – will not get in the way of his role as a player in Australia.

''I have had a long relationship with the Cambodian federation. I personally have a good relationship with the Cambodian people. I have my soccer school in Cambodia, and I am helping especially the people who have economic problems.

''Now I just wanted to help them in a different way. The soccer school is very simple, but I can't help many people, only a couple of kids.

''I wanted to give them dreams and hopes as much as I can, and if I become the manager or head coach of the Cambodian National Team, I think I can change it for both a lot of people, not directly but indirectly through the national team.

''I actually played in the Japanese national team for more than 10 years and I knew the national manager is not so busy. Most of the time they don't have games, they have two games every three or four months, and maximum about ten games a year.''

He has an assistant who helps him scout players and keep an eye on their form.

''We have to watch a lot of games in the Cambodian league as well for choosing players, so he is checking on players every week, he is managing the Cambodian staff, he is communicating with them.

''So I don't have to think and watch the games every day, I don't have to think about training programme every day, like Kevin Muscat does here so its a much different task.

''I felt like I can do the Cambodian project beside being a player. That's the idea.

''Its a soccer project as a player and coach, I have a project for two years. I won't decide how I proceed and build my career until after that.''

Source: Read Full Article