Honda powers Japan to big win against Honduras

“He’s very motivated,” the Mexican coach was quoted as saying by Japan’s Kyodo news agency.


“I think he’s started to realise that of all our players who play abroad, he is the most important.”

“(Shinji) Kagawa is also very important, but Honda is the bar of our team. I’ve been working with him for three months now, and I know what he’s thinking just by making eye contact.”

The win was welcome relief for the home crowd after Japan lost 4-0 in a friendly against Brazil in Singapore last month.

Honda scored Japan’s second goal after latching on to a clearance from midfield and placing the ball deftly past the goalkeeper. He then set up Endo and Inui for the third and fourth goals with defence-splitting passes.

“We started the game really well,” Honda said. “The important thing is to keep this going (for the Asian Cup).

“The national team needs to be made up of aspiring players and we always need to be on our toes. We can’t let up.”

Honduras will next face China, who also warmed up for the Asian Cup with a 1-1 draw against New Zealand.

Captain Zheng Zhi gave China the lead before half time with a dipping volley from outside the box but the All Whites forced a draw through a header from Chris Wood in the 87th minute.

“We played with a very young and physical side … and I think to play with this kind of style is a good thing for our team,” China coach Alain Perrin was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency.

“We may meet teams with similar style in the Asian Cup, so it’s helpful for the team. In the first half we created a lot of chances, but we need to improve our efficiency.”

In Amman, midfielder Han Kyo-wan headed in Cha Du-ri’s cross just after the half hour mark to give Asian Cup title contenders South Korea a 1-0 win over hosts Jordan.

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by xx)