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26 Apr 2018 12:10
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  •   Home > News > Sports

    Victory to play kids against Shanghai SIPG

    Melbourne Victory's biggest names will be spared a midweek Asian Champions League hit-out before their A-League elimination final.

    Shanghai SIPG have brought a pair of superstars but Melbourne Victory are still likely to play the kids in their dead rubber Asian Champions League clash on Wednesday night.

    Big-name Brazilians Elkeson and Hulk have travelled for the AAMI Park match but Victory boss Kevin Muscat says he'll save his own senior players for Sunday night's A-League elimination final with Adelaide United

    "There will be opportunities for some players who have maybe not played so much football recently. It's a good opportunity for individuals and for the team to go out and put on a performance for themselves and the football club," he said on Tuesday.

    Victory cannot qualify for the knockout stages after their 6-2 loss to Ulsan Hyundai earlier this month, while the Chinese Super League club are already through.

    The injection of Victory's next-gen talent gives the otherwise moot match a point of interest.

    Cult striker Kenny Athiu, emerging pair Josh Hope and Christian Theoharous and backup gloveman Matt Action are all certain starters for Victory.

    Cameron McGilp and Pierce Waring are also likely to earn their first start as Muscat protects senior players like Besart Berisha, Carl Valeri and Leroy George for Sunday.

    Muscat also suggested a formation change away from his beloved 4-3-3 could be on the cards to avoid fielding players out of position.

    "Based on the personnel that we ultimately decide to play, there might be an adjustment to make sure the players out there are given an opportunity to play at their strengths," he said.

    "We're still taking it seriously because the players that do come in deserve the opportunity to play in a meaningful game."

    With SIPG coach Vitor Pereira bringing his multi-million dollar men Elkeson and Hulk, Rhys Williams is likely to marshall the defence.

    "It's what football is all about, playing these big names," Williams said.

    "All credit to them coming over when they've won the group. It's good for our boys."

    Having missed crunch games against Ulsan and Wellington earlier this month through suspension, Williams said he didn't mind backing up four days before Victory's final.

    "My history will tell you that I've missed a lot of football. I don't like missing games at all ... to miss two games in a row it really hurt me," he said.

    "If I do play, I'm over the moon. I never want to miss a game."


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