MOSCOW (AFP) - Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda, who helped steer CSKA Moscow into the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time, said Thursday he had always dreamed of scoring in Europe's elite competition.
The 23-year-old grabbed the winning goal in the last 16 win at Sevilla on Tuesday, and believes that the Russian side should fear nobody in the last eight.
"Of course, our goal is to win the (Champions League) title," said Honda.
"The first goal in the Champions League is a realisation of my schoolboy dream. When I started playing I was watching TV and dreaming that I will also score one day. I'm happy to fulfill it in just my second match."
"I didn't expect to score as I thought the 'keeper would get it, but the ball was a bit wet and maybe it surprised him.
"Perhaps I got a bit lucky but a goal is a goal," Honda said about his winner which was helped into the net by a blunder from Sevilla keeper Andres Palop.
Honda said that he didn't mind who his team faced in the last eight, the draw for which is on Friday and includes the likes of defending champions Barcelona as well as English giants Manchester United and Arsenal.
"We are set to improve our performance in the Champions League and I don't really care who we play in the next round," he said. "It would have been interesting to face Real Madrid but they were eliminated."
Honda, signed from Dutch side VVV-Venlo in January, marked his Russian league debut with an injury-time winner against Amkar Perm last weekend.
"It was really great to score the winner in the first match of the championship," he said. "But it was much more important to gain three points and I'm happy we did it."
The 23-year-old said his path to CSKA was not easy.
"I turned down the first transfer offer from CSKA last summer. However, the fact that CSKA won the UEFA Cup in 2005 changed my mind and I decided to come here."
"I took a risk in the transfer to CSKA because there's always a risk in any move, but I think I made the right one."
Honda added he was hungry for the trophies and ready to overcome any difficulties.
"The main target I set when I came here was winning trophies," he said.
"Though there are plenty of attacking midfielders in CSKA I'm ready to compete for a place in the starting line-up. Besides, our manager said he was set to use all of us in some matches.
"I understand that CSKA is a club with rich traditions and there are already a lot of top class players here. But I believe I can become one of its leaders in the future."
He also said that he has benefitted from new experiences in Moscow.
"I think here in CSKA I work three or four times harder than I was working in Holland," the midfielder said. "But focusing on the physical side is good for me as one of my goals is improving my strength."
|Coach: Manolo Jiménez|
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