Wednesday, July 17, 2019 09:39:11 PM
Japan's Keisuke Honda has become the latest player to aspire to the lofty heights of Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo at an Asian Cup seemingly full of them.
The playmaker told Japanese media on Wednesday that he felt he was not far off the level of Ronaldo, who won his third world footballer of the year award earlier this week.
"There is supposed to be a limit to how many goals one player can score but (Ronaldo) keeps knocking down those limits," Honda told the Sankei Sports newspaper after scoring from the spot in Japan's 4-0 thrashing of Palestine in their Asian Cup opener.
"But he's just a human being, just like me, so I don't want to say it's impossible (to reach Ronaldo's level)," added the AC Milan player, who scored from the spot against in Monday's game. "That's what I'm always striving for."
Several players at the Asian Cup have been compared to Ronaldo, including South Korea's Son Heung-Min who has been dubbed "Sonaldo" by his Bayer Leverkusen team-mates.
While the super-serious Honda was waxing lyrical, his Japan team-mates have displayed a more relaxed demeanour and were spotted sipping espressos at the airport on Tuesday as they made their way to Brisbane for their second game of the tournament.
Iraqi and Bahrain are among teams at the Asian Cup fancifully boasting their own 'Ronaldo' but Honda appears determined to leave his mark on the competition after Japan's World Cup flop last year left him in floods of tears.
Holders Japan, winners of a record fourth Asian Cup title after beating Australia in the 2011 final, face Iraq in their second Group D game and are joint favourites to win the competition along with the host Socceroos, who have scored eight goals in two games.
Honda rather grumpily tore into the standard of refereeing after Japan's rout of Palestine and as he prowled around Newcastle airport in designer sunglasses, the rest of the team posed with fans and signed autographs, stopping for a cup of coffee before boarding their flight.
Japan's final group game will be against Jordan in Melbourne on January 20.