Muscat praises ‘immense’ Honda


Melbourne Victory head coach Kevin Muscat praised Keisuke Honda as he described his side’s win over the Newcastle Jets as deserved.

For the second straight game, Terry Antonis struck from distance after a Honda pass, helping Victory to its first win of the Hyundai A-League season thanks to a 1-0 result over the Jets in the Grand Final rematch on Saturday.

Honda has scored once and provided three assists in his three games since arriving at Victory.

Speaking at a post-match news conference, Muscat discussed Honda’s impact and his team’s win at McDonald Jones Stadium.

on the game…
“I don’t think it would’ve been particularly nice to watch. It was a contest. The ball spent a lot of time in the air, the windy conditions as well, it wasn’t conducive, and maybe it took us the first 15-odd minutes to, not that it was a surprise to us, but maybe to settle down because we gifted a little bit of territory in that first half. We were with the wind so the balls weren’t carrying out. The long balls that were coming through weren’t carrying out. They’ve got a lot of bodies in that front third. Having said that, we gifted territory, but I thought we defended with great resilience, putting our bodies on the line, blocking shots, blocking crosses, and as the half wore on, we started to get our foot on the ball and try and play and try and pass and in the second half I thought we took control from that perspective, getting the ball down against the wind for us, it was a bit easier in the second half to keep the ball on the deck and play. Kosta (Barbarouses) goes through, he’s offside and that was a little bit of a warning I suppose and then great combination for our goal and a great strike from Terry. I thought after that first 15 minutes, deserving of the three points for that second-half performance.”

on improving as the game went on…
“I think the conditions helped as well. With a strong wind in the first half, maybe we were a little bit hesitant and the type of football we were up against, we knew you’ve got to be safe in possession because if you’re drifting forward, the ball comes back very, very quickly and they have quite a few bodies in that front third and some good players so maybe we were a little bit hesitant and I thought with Jimmy (Troisi), we would change things in the middle of the second half and Jimmy and Keisuke really took control of the football and allowed the rest of the team to come into it. I thought it was a good, solid performance away from home in difficult conditions.”

on Honda’s performance…
“He’d be more involved if the ball was on the deck more often. His contribution is immense. You can see at the death there, what it meant to him, with his work rate, to get that victory. You might say our previous two performances, analytically were possibly more pleasing on the eye, but coming here, you’ve got to turn up for a contest and for a battle and from that perspective, I thought it was a huge improvement in our performance from that angle.”

on Antonis’ goal…
“Great strike. He was in a very good position and he’s got that ability. Again, with Terry and Keisuke and Jimmy in that midfield area, we’re trying to get the ball down as quickly as possible. The conditions didn’t really suit those type of players.”