Champions League preview: Sanfrecce v Victory


Keisuke Honda is set to play his first competitive club game in Japan in more than a decade when Melbourne Victory visits Sanfrecce Hiroshima.


Honda, 32, returns to his homeland for Victory’s Group F clash against J1 League runner-up Sanfrecce in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday.

The Japan great enjoyed a fine career in Europe after leaving Nagoya Grampus in 2007, while a stint at Pachuca in Mexico preceded his move to Victory.

Honda and Victory are aiming to end a five-game winless run, which included a 3-1 loss to Daegu last time out.

Ola Toivonen scored his 11th goal of the season to give Victory the lead, but it was beaten in Melbourne.

It looks for a response when it makes the trip to the Hiroshima Athletic Stadium.

Victory, which had its chances against Daegu, is bidding for its first away win in the AFC Champions League.

Sanfrecce suffered a 2-0 loss to Guangzhou Evergrande in its opening game, while it has one win from its first three league matches this season.

Victory great Besart Berisha moved to Sanfrecce last year, but the forward was left out of the club’s AFC Champions League squad.

Player in focus

What they said

“It’s going to be massive. I imagine at the airport there might be a lot of people there so I’ll just sneak through the back unnoticed but take it all in. I think it’s going to be something special. He (Honda) is massive over there so I think we’re going to get a big crowd and a good reception for him.” – Victory forward Kosta Barbarouses.

As it stands

Match details

Sanfrecce Hiroshima v Melbourne Victory
Hiroshima Athletic Stadium, Hiroshima
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Kick-off: 9.00pm AEDT