Honda’s win­ning ac­cord

Sunday Herald Sun - - Soccer - DAVID DAVUTOVIC

KEISUKE Honda is al­ready the ALeague’s as­sist king, but good judges have warned Mel­bourne Vic­tory’s op­po­nents that there is plenty more to come.

Ex-Soc­ceroo Sasa Og­nen­ovski de­clared that his mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar sign­ing has al­ready paid off, while Vic­tory coach Kevin Muscat re­vealed that much of his handy­work goes un­no­ticed.

Honda has been in­volved in ev­ery Vic­tory goal this sea­son and his three as­sists and goal are sup­ported by a strong body of work: 208 pos­ses­sions (fourth in A-League), 13 shot as­sists (first), 54 com­pleted passes in at­tack­ing third (fourth) and 26 at­tempted crosses (third).

Og­nen­ovski, who lined up against Honda in sev­eral high-oc­tane in­ter­na­tion­als, said Vic­tory play­ers should trust the mid­fielder more, liken­ing him to for­mer team­mate Mark Bres­ciano.

“Honda has made an im­pact wher­ever he’s played — CSKA Moscow, AC Mi­lan and Ja­pan. And he’s al­ready vin­di­cated his sign­ing. He’s putting bums on seats,’’ the Fox Sports com­men­ta­tor said.

“He’s qual­ity — knows where to be, doesn’t turn the ball over, which you see too much of in the A-League. He keeps pos­ses­sion and knows when to pass or hold, go back, for­wards or side­ways.

“He’s very aware of play­ers around him. He’s like Bresh, you can give him the ball in tight space to feet and even with a man up his back­side, he’ll find space with his first touch into the space. It’s that Ja­panese tech­nique.

“I don’t think Vic­tory give him the ball enough. Last week he barely touched the ball for the first 30 min­utes — he needs to get on the ball more and get into games quicker.

“He still hasn’t come to grips with the foot­ball and I don’t think he knows the strengths and weak­nesses of his team­mates, so when they ac­tu­ally set­tle we’ll see a lot more from him.”

The re­turn of for­ward Ola Toivo­nen will also help, ac­cord­ing to Og­nen­ovski, and the Swe­den World Cup star could de­but off the bench in tonight’s clash with Cen­tral Coast Mariners at AAMI Park.

Muscat has played Honda on the right side of mid­field but given him a li­cence to roam, and he’s thrilled with the im­pact.

“He comes un­der a lot of at­ten­tion from op­po­nents so it’s up to him to find space that will give him more time to make the killer pass that splits op­po­si­tions,’’ Muscat said. “A bit of a trend that we’ve no­ticed is teams want to limit his in­flu­ence, which starts to open up other ar­eas for other peo­ple. So some­times he might not be vis­ually di­rectly in­volved, but in­di­rectly he’s cre­at­ing space for oth­ers.

“We want to get bet­ter at util­is­ing him and (ex­ploit­ing) the space he leaves in be­hind.”


AAMI Park, Tonight, 7pm Vic­tory Draw Mariners Live on Fox Sports 1116SEN, ABC Grand­stand Dig­i­tal Kevin Muscat Ac­ton (gk), 6 Brox­ham, 11 Toivo­nen, 16 Hope, 22 Ansell Mike Mul­vey 12 Pearce (gk), 11 Pain, 18 Mil­lar, 19 Si­mon, 22 Melling Vic­tory will take con­fi­dence from last week’s win and its su­pe­rior qual­ity should be telling.

Keisuke Honda of Mel­bourne Vic­tory shields the ball from Lach­lan Jack­son of New­cas­tle Jets. Pic­ture: AAP TAB odds: $4.50, TV: RA­DIO: $1.45, $7 VIC­TORY 4-4-2 Coach: Subs: MARINERS 4-2-3-1 Coach: Subs: DAVUTOVIC’S VER­DICT As­sists ( Shot as­sists ( shots – all on tar­get com­pleted passes ef­fec­tive tack­les

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