Honda | Wanderers | FFA Cup | Trent Sainsbury | Canberra A-League bid
Honda brings an early spring to the A-League, while six A-League clubs are in action tonight in the FFA Cup07 August 2018 | FT Editor
As reported here yesterday, Melbourne Victory announced the signing of 32-year-old Japan superstar, Keisuke Honda, on a two-year deal to take him through to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Ray Gatt writes that Honda's signing is expected to be the first marquee signing this season for the A-League supported by the $3 million "war chest" provided specifically for the purpose by FOX Sports. Melbourne Victory expects that Honda's signing will pay-off on and off the field, and could see its membership climb above 30,000.
I signed！Look forward to seeing you in Australia!!— KeisukeHonda(本田圭佑) (@kskgroup2017) August 6, 2018
Honda has played 98 times for Japan, and is the only Japanese player to score in three successive World Cup tournaments - 2010, 2014 and 2018.
Honda says he was happy to join the A-League, even though he didn't think he'd ever play in Australia. He also says that "Kevin Muscat is a really nice guy".
Western Sydney Wanderers
One person who is not so excited about Honda's signing is Western Sydney Wanderers coach, Markus Babbel, who says he prefers "hard workers" to marquee players. Ironically, as Emma Kemp points out, in his own playing days Babbel could well have qualified as an A-League marquee player himself, having played for Bayern Munich, Hamburger SV, Liverpool and 51 times for Germany including a European Championship winner in 1996.
Western Sydney Wanderers have an FFA Cup match tonight in Darwin against Hellenic AC, with Mark Bridge not making the trip due to an ongoing calf injury which is likely to see him sidelined for at least five weeks.
For Babbel, who has played at the likes of Anfield, Munich's Olympiastadion, Camp Nou, Wembley - and now it's the Darwin Football Stadium No. 2 at Larrakia Park at Marrara (pictured). Babbel says it's a new experience for him, particularly the 4.5 hour flight to get there, but he treats the other side with the utmost respect.
Meanwhile, the home team in Darwin are "quietly confident" that they can buck the trend of previous NT teams that have taken part in the FFA Cup. Hellenic AC is the oldest club in the NT, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and is led by a 48-year-old Mozambique striker, Helio Carvalho, who is seen as "Darwin's Tim Cahill".
Another A-League side playing in the FFA Cup tonight is Wellington Phoenix who has travelled to Melbourne to meet Bentleigh Greens. It is new coach, Mark Rudan's, first competitive game in charge. This is an interesting Q&A with Simon Hill where, amongst other things, Rudan reveals that when he took the job, the club had only ten players on the roster - mind you, some coaches would love to come into a new team with so few players as it allows them to choose their own.
Other games tonight are:
- Gold Coast Knights v Newcastle Jets
- Brisbane Roar v Melbourne City
- Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory
This report states Trent Sainsbury is about to sign with PSV Eindhoven - a much improved option than China.
Canberra A-League bid
To be frank, after two days of radio silence from this lot - the media-story-a-day Canberra A-League bid - we're sort of pleased to see their back on form today. And, to be fair, it's good news! The bid leaders say they have signed 5,000 members in less than one month (too bad there's not actually a club yet), which is more than five A-League clubs: Newcastle Jets, Central Coast Mariners, Wellington Phoenix, Adelaide United and Perth Glory.
keisuke honda, trent sainsbury, a-league, ffa cup, a-league expansion