Kelvin Leong shares five things you need to know about Keisuke Honda’s love affair with Cambodia as the Japanese star prepares to embark on a surprising role as general manager of the Kouprey Blue.
Football fans the world around were surprised when the Cambodian Football Federation (CFF) held a press conference on Sunday to announce Keisuke Honda’s appointment as the national team’s general manager.
After all, Honda, 32, had just created a buzz last week when Melbourne Victory announced that they have signed him on as a marquee player for their upcoming campaign.
There were rumours of Honda taking a dual role of general manager and head coach, while some wondered if his A-League debut was ever going to happen.
FOX Sports Asia breaks it down to help you understand Honda’s role and responsibilities in the months ahead.
Honda will continue playing for Melbourne Victory
Having inked a contract to turn out for Victory in the A-League, the club and player have both come out to affirm his priorities.
Honda will not miss Victory’s A-League matches and will only travel to Cambodia whenever his playing schedule allows.
He will hold weekly video meetings from Melbourne with the Cambodian coaching staff to ensure his instructions are carried out properly.
Honda volunteered for the role and will not be paid
When the news first leaked out to the public, many sceptics reckoned the Japanese star must have inked a lucrative contract that will see him profit greatly.
This is not the case as the CFF president Sao Sokha revealed that Honda has taken on the project on a voluntary basis, and will not be accepting any form of salary package.
Honda cannot take up head coach role without a license
Honda has yet to retire as a player and does not have the adequate coaching badges needed to assume the role of head coach.
This role will reportedly go to Argentine tactician Felix Agustin Gonzalez Dalmas, who will be receiving tactical advice from Honda in his capacity as general manager.
Honda will also be Cambodia’s culture ambassador
Aside from his duties as general manager of the Cambodian national team, the former AC Milan ace will act as a cultural ambassador, to promote the kingdom’s scenic travel destinations.
Cambodia is known for its UNESCO-listed World Heritage site Angkor Wat and has a strong cultural presence that offers tourists an opportunity to take the road less traveled.
Honda owns Cambodian club and academy
This will not be Honda’s first foray into Cambodian football. He opened the Honda Soltilo Soccer School in Phnom Penh in June 2016 and is the owner of Soltilo Angkor FC, a club that participates in the Cambodian league.
Honda’s first glimpse of Cambodia came in 2015 when he played and scored for Japan in a 2-0 victory over Cambodia as part of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.