Keisuke Honda is expected to make his A-league debut on Saturday night at Marvel Stadium.
Honda’s introduction to Australian football is anything but friendly, as Victory hosts rivals Melbourne City in Round One.
Having played in the Milan derby during his three-year spell with AC Milan and featured in the Moscow equivalent, Honda understands what it means to play against neighbouring rivals.
“The first experience for me is a derby and the beginning of the season and this is unusual,” Honda said.
“It’s going to be a very difficult game and a sensitive game. Even the experienced players won’t be comfortable and it is important to prepare mentally.
“Tactically we are analysing them and Kevin [Muscat] has told us a lot about what they will do on Saturday.
“I’m fine and I’m ready to play against them.”
Not only has Honda had plenty of time to prepare mentally for Saturday’s encounter, but physically he has had longer than usual to regain fitness following Japan’s World Cup exit.
“We’ve been training for two or three months and I have never done preparation this hard,” stated Honda.
“It’s a good experience, but finally we can play against Melbourne City on Saturday and I’m so excited.”
With the A-League season starting slightly later than the European season, Honda has had time to understand and appreciate sporting culture in Australia: “Usually everyone is waiting for the start of the season, in Europe and around the world.
“But Australia has just finished the rugby season and now we start our league. It’s weird, unique but I like it.”
Having played in Japan, Netherlands, Russia, Italy and Mexico, Victory’s number four is now adjusting to life in Australia and is starting to feel more at home.
“Every day Japanese fans come to watch our training and here doesn’t feel like abroad to me,” said Honda referring to life in Melbourne.
“I’ve been learning English every day and I think I will be able to speak much better in a couple of months, I just need time to get your accent,” he joked “When I talk to Lawrence [Thomas] it’s very tough to understand him.”