Hope set for first Victory start


Josh Hope looks set to makes his first start for Melbourne Victory in tonight’s crucial AFC Champions League match away to Ulsan Hyundai.

Terry Antonis was a late withdrawal from the travelling squad after being struck down with illness on Sunday night. Antonis’ absence opens the door for Hope to make his starting debut.

The 20-year-old has made five Hyundai A-League appearances and three AFC Champions League appearances, all off the bench, this season.

While he wasn’t happy about losing Antonis, head coach Kevin Muscat said Hope was deserving of his opportunity.

“Terry didn’t travel, he wasn’t well the night before and we couldn’t take any risks,” Muscat said.

“But Josh deserves the opportunity as the next cab off the rank, regardless of his age, he’ll be supported by the rest of the group.

“In that area of the park finding opportunities is tough so he’s building up some resilience in his character as well, there’s some toughness about him.”

A win for either club tonight would guarantee their progression to the Round of 16, while a draw would see the battle for second place go down to the wire on Match Day 6.

Kick-off at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium is at 8:00pm AEST.