Japanese soccer star Keisuke Honda, recently named general manager of Cambodia's national team, said Sunday he will concentrate on building up its players for the future.
Honda spoke at a press conference a day ahead of a scheduled friendly match against Malaysia. It will be the 166th-ranked Cambodian team's first contest since he agreed last month to helm the team, when he also signed a contract to play with the Australian club Melbourne Victory.
"It's going to be a very tough game but I am sure we will do our best," he said.
The 32-year-old Honda has taken on what amounts to a part-time coaching role in Cambodia, and has said he has no contract or pay for what is supposed to be a two-year stint. He already has an attachment to the Southeast Asian country, having launched his soccer academy school there.
Honda said he and Cambodia's football association have talked about "how we make Cambodian players grow up for the future," so he is focusing on how he can raise them to "a good level." He said he was confident because "they have huge potential."
"We have trained a very good lot the last couple of days," he said. "I already found a lot of good players and experienced players and young players."
He asked the team's fans to be patient about its progress.
"We are just beginning our project so I want you to stay calm about the new system, new performers, we are just developing it day by day," he said. "That I already told all the players and all players understood about it."
Team captain Khouch Sokompheak, also at the press conference, vowed that "I will do what I can for tomorrow's game" and follow Honda's instructions.© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.