Melbourne Victory’s recruitment of Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda has taken a bizarre turn, with the 32-year-old on Sunday unveiled as a senior figure with the Cambodian national team.
Honda was unveiled in his new role with the Cambodian national side in a press conference in Pnomh Penh on Sunday, under the title of General Manager.
It is understood that Honda, who retired from the Japanese national side following their exit from the 2018 World Cup in Russia, will mentor the national side via once-a-week video conferences whilst fulfilling his playing role with the Victory in Melbourne.
Honda, likely in an effort to circumnavigate Asian Football Confederation (AFC) rules that prohibit an individual from receiving payment from a football federation while already employed by a club or federation from another nation, will is reportedly not to be compensated for his role with the Cambodian national side beyond having his travelling costs reimbursed – however, it is unclear if even this may run afoul of AFC regulations.
Because I’m absolutely flummoxed by this whole situation, here’s a thread on how Keisuke Honda’s appointment as general manager is being reported in Japan:
— Dan Orlowitz (@aishiterutokyo) August 12, 2018
Victory have been quick to seek to alleviate fears fans may have that Honda would be absent from the A-League for large periods of time, saying that they were aware of Honda’s negotiations with Cambodian when they signed him and that the Japanese superstar will only be absent when the A-League pauses for international breaks for the first time in the 2018-19 season.
Cambodia will be playing in the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup tournament later this year in a group with Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos, but is not clear if Honda will be present at the tournament given the A-League season will be simultaneously taking place.
Cambodia has group games on the November 8, 12, 20 and 24in that tournament, with the A-League only scheduled to break between November 12 and 20 and Victory scheduled to play on the November 11 and 25.
Should Cambodia progress from their group in the AFF Suzuki Cup, they could, in theory, be competing until 15 December; when the second leg of the final is scheduled.