No love lost: Japan's Keisuke Honda (right) and former head coach Vahid Halilhodzic Photo: AFP
soccer

Honda puts boot into fired Japan coach Halilhodzic

10 Comments
By John Thys and Yuri Cortez

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 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 Franco-Bosnian.

"I don't have any regrets (about the change of leadership)," Honda said in a documentary that 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," said 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, instantly recognisable with his spiky, bleach-blond hair, sat glumly on the bench when Japan secured their spot at this year's World Cup in Russia 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. "I have not forgotten that. 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. What I can't accept is that there is a situation in which I might be dropped -- not with the World Cup so close."

New Japan coach Akira Nishino is expected to name his 23-man World Cup squad on May 31.

© 2018 AFP

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

10 Comments
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"I know I promised the Japanese people we would win the World Cup," he said. "I have not forgotten that. 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.

frankly I don't think Japan can win the world cup with or without him.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

A Japanese promise sounds a bit like a continental European promise. Make the thing first to demonstrate sincerity; any result is of less importance.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"I know I promised the Japanese people we would win the World Cup," he said.

LOL

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"I know I promised the Japanese people we would win the World Cup," he said. "I have not forgotten that. 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. What I can't accept is that there is a situation in which I might be dropped -- not with the World Cup so close."

Good luck then.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh Honda, stop being a cry baby. Japan won't win a WC in my life time no matter how hard they try.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It sounds like "I might have been dropped, therefore I had the coach fired before that could happen".

If so, it makes what the JFA said a lie and I can't blame Halilhodzic for wanting to take legal action.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There's a good reason why Honda was dropped and any coach would have done it. It's bad enough to hear him mouthing off about Japan winning the World Cup.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

a dillusional out of control ego.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So basically, the coach wouldn't kowtow to his two most famous players, one of whom is a prima donna drama queen with fading skills, but who has a ton of endorsement deals with Nissin, et al... so he's fired.

Gotcha Keisuke. Makes more sense now.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

frankly I don't think Japan can win the world cup with or without him.

You always should go a tournament with the cup as goal despite all odds against this current team. In South Africa in 2010 Japan played well but in Rio 2014 they ended up last in their group. They are qualified so go for it and try to get as far as you can :)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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