SEVEN WAYS FOR VICTORY TO BOUNCE BACK
15 KEVIN MUSCAT NEEDS A PLAN B
Victory dominated teams in 2016/17 and their glamorous players stood up to the challenge, but when it came to stronger opposition or an off-day they were found out. It showed in the Grand Final as Muscat made just one change taking off Fahid Ben Khalfallah for Jai Ingham in extra-time. The squad needs more versatility rather than like-for-like. And now with Marco Rojas’s departure, Muscat needs to have a few tricks up his sleeve.
16 FIND A WAY TO BEAT SYDNEY FC
Victory were unable to crack their interstate rivals last season and were beaten in all four meetings including the crucial Grand Final, despite Victory’s impressive squad. Sydney have since lost five key players from their Championship side but still have Johnny Warren Medal winner Milos Ninkovic, captain Alex Brosque and new signing Luke Wilkshire. The Sky Blues may well meet Victory again in the finals and this time they need to find a winning edge.
17 INTERNATIONALS NEED A BIG SEASON
The national team players in Victory’s squad plan to hit top form to make it into Ange Postecoglou’s World Cup for Russia in 2018. Muscat likes to recruit players who have already proved themselves in the A-League and Mark Milligan and James Troisi remain firmly in top contention for Australia while Rhys Williams could also be in the mix. Kosta Barbarouses and Jai Ingham will also be looking to be in the All Whites squad if the Kiwis make the World Cup.
18 JASON GERIA NEEDS TO STAND UP OR SHIP OUT AT RIGHTBACK
As we go to press, Geria remains the only rightback in Victory’s squad for the upcoming season. The Canberra-born Aussie enjoyed a big 2015/16 which got him into two Socceroos camps in 2016, playing his first and only game against Greece. Since then Geria slipped out of the spotlight in 2016/17 and admitted his downturn in form ahead of the finals. The 24-year-old will now under pressure to turn things around.
19 TIME FOR THOMAS DENG’S BREAKOUT SEASON
He needs to break into the squad first, but after the departures of Nick Ansell and Alan Baro, Deng could be needed this season. The Kenyan-born centre-back has just come off a season loan with Jong PSV in the Eerste Divisie where he featured in five games. It is hard to see Victory relying solely on Rhys Williams and James Donachie for the whole campaign and it could prove to be a great opportunity for Deng to prove how good he really is.
20 SECURE A PLACE IN THE 2019 ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Many A-League clubs struggle to juggle domestic games with the Asian Champions League. It has led to criticism in the past with some questioning the standard and squad depth of the A-League to match it with Asia’s best. Victory made the Round of 16 for the first time in 2016 but finished sixth in the regular season. Victory need to go in with the intention of wanting to excel in all campaigns rather than focusing on one competition. With game time guaranteed to internationals Mark Milligan, James Troisi and Rhys Williams, these boys will be wanting to play as many matches as possible.