Talking points: Stunning debuts light up Round 1

His side may not have come away with a win, but Keisuke Honda showed he is going to be a major weapon for defending Hyundai A-League Champions Melbourne Victory in the 2018/19 Season.

On a weekend where a host of players – and coaches – made a mark on their debut, Honda was arguably the pick of the bunch.

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The Japanese legend took just 28 minutes to open up his goal scoring account in the Hyundai A-League,  ghosting in between a couple of City defenders to powerfully head Victory into a derby lead.

But the 32-year-old’s contribution was about more than just his goal.


Honda was involved in everything for Kevin Muscat’s side, showing his quality with some brilliant touches, while his vision and passing delighted the 40,000 plus crowd inside Marvel Stadium.

If that’s the kind of form Honda is going to produce on a weekly basis, then Victory are going to reap the benefits.

“He’s a very, very clever footballer. He has got the understanding with his teammates in such a short time and he was exciting every time he got on the ball,” Muscat enthused to reporters on Saturday night.

“I thought he was very influential. His desire to compete and his technical ability is something else.

“He not only scored the goal but set up a few chances as well. He was outstanding.”


Honda wasn’t the only debutant at Marvel Stadium to shine brightly.

City’s Ritchie De Laet proved what an excellent pick-up he’s going to be for Warren Joyce’s side with an eye-catching performance from right-back.

The former Manchester United defender started City’s fightback with the equalising goal, staying alive in the box to poke home the rebound after Florin Berenguer’s penalty was saved.

Everything De Laet did had a touch of class about it, from his cheeky nutmeg on Victory’s Terry Antonis to his unwavering appetite to surge forward down the right flank and join the attack.

He looks like he'll be a genuine presence on the field in both attack and defence and someone who will lead by example this season.

While he didn’t take the field himself, it was a memorable coaching debut for new Wellington Phoenix boss Mark Rudan.

Tasked with trying to resurrect the Phoenix after a lean few years for the Kiwi club, Rudan got off to the perfect start with their 2-1 win over Newcastle Jets.

It appears that the former Sydney FC Championship-winning defender has instilled a fierce determination into his playing group, something Rudan was well-known for during his own playing days.

He said all pre-season his ‘Nix team would be a hard side to beat, and on the evidence of the opening game, his words are ringing true.

Mark Rudan


Sydney FC new boy Adam Le Fondre also had his name up in lights in the striker's first Hyundai A-League appearance, thanks to his goal in Friday's 1-1 draw with Adelaide United.

It was Reds debutant Scott Galloway – in his first Hyundai A-League outing for the club – that gave his side the lead with a stunning goal before Le Fondre's late equaliser.

Meanwhile, Riley McGree capped his City debut with the winner in the Melbourne Derby, and Adam Taggart marked his first game for Brisbane Roar with the equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Central Coast Mariners.