Honda ham­mers ex boss for putting brakes on

Sport360 - - World Cup 2018 - By Staff Re­porter @Sport360 ed­i­to­rial@sport360.com

Ja­pan for­ward Keisuke Honda has slammed for­mer na­tional team boss Vahid Halil­hodzic’s meth­ods as the fall­out from his abrupt dis­missal as coach con­tin­ued in the run-up to the World Cup.

The tal­is­manic 31-year-old, who had be­come a pe­riph­eral fig­ure un­der Halil­hodzic, told Ja­panese broad­caster NHK that he was frus­trated at the rigid tac­tics be­ing de­ployed by the fire­brand Fran­coBos­nian.

“I don’t have any re­grets (about the change of lead­er­ship),” Honda said in a doc­u­men­tary which aired late on Mon­day.

“To sub­mit my­self to the kind of foot­ball Halil­hodzic played in or­der to get picked, that would be shame­ful for me,” sniffed the for­mer AC Mi­lan player. “I’m proud that I’ve stayed true to my­self.”

Honda, cur­rently play­ing for Mex­ico’s Pachuca, shot to fame at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when his goals helped Ja­pan reach the last 16. But his re­la­tion­ship with Halil­hodzic, who took the Ja­pan job in 2015 be­fore be­ing dumped in April, had be­come in­creas­ingly frac­tious over the past year.

Honda, recog­nis­able with his spiky, bleach-blond hair, sat glumly on the bench when Ja­pan se­cured their spot at this year’s World Cup by beat­ing Aus­tralia 2-0 at home last Au­gust. The Ja­pan Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion blamed Halil­hodzic’s sack­ing on a break­down of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with play­ers, a charge that has prompted the for­mer Al­ge­ria coach to con­sider le­gal ac­tion.

Halil­hodzic claimed there were only two play­ers he did not see eye to eye with, thought by many to be Honda and Borus­sia Dort­mund play­maker Shinji Ka­gawa – Ja­pan’s two best-known play­ers.

Honda, mean­while, dou­bled down on bold state­ments he made in years past about Ja­pan win­ning the World Cup, de­spite fail­ing to progress be­yond the last 16 in five pre­vi­ous at­tempts.

“I know I promised the Ja­panese peo­ple we would win the World Cup,” he said. “Frankly that’s why I want to go to the World Cup and show how much it means to me to fight for the ti­tle.”

Feel­ing blue: Keisuke Honda.

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