Soccer

Keisuke Honda ends A-League career with semifinal loss

Kyodo

Former Japan star Keisuke Honda made his last appearance in the Australian A-League for Melbourne Victory in a 6-1 semifinal loss to archrivals Sydney FC on Sunday.

The Victory’s marquee player revealed in April that he would leave the A-League at the end of the 2019 season, but he has not decided where he will play next.

In a post-match press conference, Victory coach Kevin Muscat said he took “full responsibility” for the team’s performance at Sydney’s Jubilee Park.

“It’s pretty quiet in there,” Muscat said, referring to the atmosphere in the team changing room. “We didn’t perform anywhere near our capabilities.”

After two unsuccessful attempts on goal, an injury-time cross from 32-year-old Honda set up the team’s only goal, scored by Ola Toivonen in the 91st minute.

After the match, several Japanese fans waited outside the Melbourne Victory team bus in the hope of seeing the midfielder off.

“I was upset (with the result),” said 21-year-old Takehiro Ogiso, originally from Aichi Prefecture in central Japan.

Honda’s final appearance as a Victory player will be an Asian Champions League match against Sanfrecce Hiroshima on May 22. Victory have already been eliminated from the continental tournament.

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