Mus­cat sees fight­ing spirit from un­der-fire Vic­tory

Geelong Advertiser - - SPORT - BEN MCKAY

UN­DER- PRES­SURE Mel­bourne Vic­tory coach Kevin Mus­cat be­lieves he has seen signs of re­cov­ery in his side’s 3-3 draw with Ul­san Hyundai on Tues­day night. And one of them might be lanky ex-NPL striker Kenny Athiu.

Vic­tory con­ceded the lead three times to the South Korean vis­i­tors in their Asian Cham­pi­ons League cam­paign opener.

Each time, they were level within three min­utes as Leroy Ge­orge, twice, and Rhys Wil­liams found the net.

It may not be the three points they might need to progress from the in­tim­i­dat­ing group along­side Ja­panese cham­pi­ons Kawasaki Frontale and China’s Shang­hai SIPG, but af­ter three straight ALeague losses Mus­cat was pre­pared to take the ef­fort as im­prove­ment.

“For us to be pegged back three leads, (to come back) was an out­stand­ing ef­fort from the group,” he said.

“The sec­ond goal from Leroy, the build-up was phe­nom­e­nal. I look at this per­for­mance tonight and I see ev­ery­one fight­ing for this foot­ball club and I dare say that’s what peo­ple want to see.

“A group of play­ers, even the boys that came on, fought for this foot­ball club. Fought for each other. Fought for me.”

For the sec­ond straight match, Athiu re­placed Be­sart Ber­isha to lead the line for Vic­tory.

The 24-year-old played for Hei­del­berg United last year but now finds him­self play­ing among Asia’s elite.

His per­for­mance left plenty to be de­sired — with heavy touches and a lack of com­po­sure in the box invit­ing com­par­isons to a gi­raffe or an octopus — but Mus­cat said he did very well.

“He worked ever so hard and posed dif­fer­ent ques­tions, dif­fer­ent prob­lems for the op­po­si­tion,” he said.

“He should be very pleased with his con­tri­bu­tion.”

Athiu de­scribed turn­ing out in the ACL as “a mas­sive deal” but rued his in­abil­ity to score.

“I was hop­ing to score a win­ning goal but it didn’t come ... I had more than enough chances,” he said.

“I’ll have trou­ble sleep­ing tonight that I didn’t put them away.”

Vic­tory now head for Shang­hai on Satur­day ahead of a Tues­day night date against the Chi­nese Su­per League club, who de­feated Kawasaki 1-0 in their opener.

Mus­cat will need a point in China to stay on pace in the group but re­fused to write off their prospects of qual­i­fy­ing. “It’s early,” he said. “Who knows what’s go­ing to hap­pen down the track.”

Pic­ture: PETER RISTEVSKI

TOP KNOCK: Bell Post Hill player Bai­ley Rathje made an un­beaten 122.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.