Melbourne Victory manager Kevin Muscat has elected to rest Matthieu Delpierre and keep Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Gui Finkler available for A-League matches. With the likes of Elkeson and Asamoah Gyan among Shanghai SIPG‘s top talent, the onus was on Muscat to emphasize a strong defensive presence heading into AFC Champions League play. David Davutovic of Fox Sports writes…
The shock value is two-pronged. Delpierre last week told the Herald Sun he was unlikely to play in the Champions League because he’d struggle to cope physically, and the A-League has generally taken precedence for local clubs, with the obvious exception of Western Sydney.
It’s understandable that Delpierre, who turns 35 in April, wants to preserve his frame in his last season at Victory, but that means coach Kevin Muscat’s courageous decision should be lauded.
Delpierre, who has been Victory’s most consistent player for 18 months and has become even more important since Carl Valeri went down in November, said he would struggle to play in all of the remaining 14-18 games, depending on how far Victory goes in the A-League and ACL.
But in doing his Asian homework, Muscat realised that facing Shanghai SIPG’s visa stars, Brazilian Elkeson and Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan, and Gamba Osaka’s Brazilian strike duo Ademilson and Patric without Delpierre was fraught with danger.
Delpierre, New Zealand international Kosta Barbarouses, and Albanian hitman Besart Berisha fill the three international slots for the Victory in ACL play. Here is the list of players for the Victory.
Melbourne Victory’s 2016 AFC Champions League squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 2.Jason GERIA, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 11.Connor PAIN, 13.Oliver BOZANIC, 15.Giancarlo GALLIFUOCO, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE, 18.Dylan MURNANE, 19.George HOWARD, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI, 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Jai INGHAM, 24.Thomas DENG, 25.Kieran DOVER, 26.Stefan NIGRO, 27.Joey KATEBIAN, 30.Lucas SPINELLA (gk)
In other Melbourne Victory news, the club, like Tony Popovic‘s Western Sydney Wanderers, was fined $50,000 and docked three points for unruly fan behavior by Football Federation Australia.
“The behaviour of a number of Melbourne Victory supporters last Saturday night was deplorable and cast a shadow over what was a fabulous game of A-League football,” said FFA CEO David Gallop. “It’s staggering that these dangerous incidents happened just days after FFA had applied sanctions to the Western Sydney Wanderers because of the actions of some fans. The focus on fan behaviour could not have been more acute.
“If there is any bright note in this situation, it is the refreshing attitude shown by both clubs through their CEOs, coaches and players. They are saying ‘enough is enough’. As leaders and ambassadors of their clubs, they want to be part of the solution.”
“We ask the true Melbourne Victory fans to stand with us to eradicate anti-social behaviour,” Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro said on Wednesday. “It will come from a unified attitude shift. The people involving themselves in anti-social behaviour are not fans of our club or our game. The true fans of our club want this to come to an end.
“This club has worked incredibly hard to deliver the success that we have to our members and our fans. We now need every single Melbourne Victory person to unite. Together we must ensure that anti-social behaviour from a marginal element does not compromise everything that we’re trying to achieve. Our message today is clear and simple. No more flares. No more anti-social behaviour. Enough is enough.”