Liberty A-League preview: Canberra v Victory

Match details

Canberra United v Melbourne Victory
Viking Park, Canberra
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Kick-off: 5.25pm AEDT
Broadcast: Paramount+


Melbourne Victory continues its busy run of Liberty A-League fixtures with a trip to face Canberra United on Tuesday.

Victory will play a sixth game in 19 days when it makes the trip to Viking Park.

Jeff Hopkins’ side is coming off a 2-0 loss to Perth Glory on Saturday as it saw its five-game unbeaten run ended.

A pair of second-half goals handed Victory a first defeat since January 2 as it looked to seal a place in the Finals Series.

Hopkins felt fatigue played a part in the loss, with Perth looking particularly lively in the second half at AAMI Park.

Catherine Zimmerman was Victory’s most dangerous forward, although the host lacked sharpness and energy in the attacking third.

Victory was without Amy Jackson due to injury, while Alana Murphy (ankle) came off in the first half.

The result left Victory in fourth on the table, two points behind Adelaide United, but holding a game in hand.

The busy run of games will continue with a trip to Adelaide on Saturday before Victory’s regular season finishes at home to Canberra United on March 4.

Player in focus

Back in the starting line-up against Perth, Tiffany Eliadis produced a solid performance, including a clearance off the line, in her return to centre-back.

What they said – Hopkins

on health of squad…
“Question mark on ‘Murph’ (Murphy). She rolled her ankle early on in the half yesterday and she tried to play on with it, probably could see she was struggling so again like a number of the girls she will just keep going until it breaks down so we made the call to pull her off, we got her off at about half-hour stage because you could see she was running with a bit of pain and restriction. But she’s a young player who just wants to play so every credit to her, she kept going, she didn’t put her hand up to come off so we made the call for her. She’s been in today (Sunday) for treatment and it could be touch and go for Tuesday, not sure, so we’ll have a look at her in the morning, hopefully she’s good but at the moment it’s probably 60-40 against her being fit, especially with the games coming this quickly. In a normal week she’d have a couple of days of treatment, come back into training and be fine for the next game. At the moment if we push her into this game it could impact on her in the next game or the game after so we just need to be a bit careful with her.”

on fatigue…
“In terms of the mental side of things I don’t think we’ve got any problem at all. They’re an amazing group of players. They lift each other every day when they’re in and there’s always two or three that come in that are really bright and chirpy and they get everyone laughing and joking and get the mood of the whole group up so that’s not a problem. Physical fatigue is a difficult one. We haven’t got a huge squad, we’ve got maybe if you look at our back four, we haven’t got a great deal of cover in the back four so players are being asked to play a lot more game time than we’d ask normally. We’ve been able to rotate the midfield and the strikers to an extent as well, but obviously the back four is a little bit more difficult for us, obviously losing Kayla (Morrison) to a long-term injury, ‘AJ’ (Amy Jackson) as well who has been our cover there has made things a little bit difficult. We’re just going through our game minutes today and it will most probably be a case of playing the players with the least amount of minutes, they’re going to play more of the game minutes against Canberra. You’ve got to weigh a number of things up, form of players against how many minutes they’ve played as well. It is difficult, but everyone is putting their hand up to play, whether they’ve played every minute of every game or they’re players on the bench that are desperate to come on and play or players that haven’t played any game minutes. I guess for me the good thing is everyone wants to play and everyone is putting their hand up. Sometimes the most difficult thing is telling someone they’re not playing, even though they’ve played a huge amount of time. In terms of the mental side of things, girls are great, there’s no problem with that and we’ve spoken about that already this week.”

on Perth game…
“The physical side of things I think you could tell yesterday that everyone was out there giving 100 per cent but for one or two of the players the tanks were a little bit empty. It had an effect on the way that we were able to play in certain areas of the field. I thought our build-up from back to middle third was as good as it’s been all season, I thought we moved the ball really well, we played through the lines, we got the ball into our midfield and across the halfway line really well, it was just once we got into the final third, we lacked a little bit of energy, a little bit of spark that we had if you looked at the second half of the Sydney game in mid-week, that spark, that energy, that real intensity to break lines, to play through lines, to run through lines, that wasn’t quite there and that wasn’t through lack of effort, it was just the energy levels were down. I know the players are looking after themselves really well, the Club is looking after them as well, we’ll make sure that they have a really light session in the morning, they’ll get into the pool, they’ll get their massage, they’ll get a massage in Canberra as well, anything we ask for the Club is giving us so we’re in a good situation. We’ve just got to roll our sleeves up and make the best of the situation and sometimes it’s just about in these tough situations you’ve just got to make that extra run, dig a little bit deeper into your reserves and say, ‘I’m determined that we’re going to go to Canberra and we’re going to win this game and we’re going to put ourselves back in the position we were before the game on the weekend.’ It’s a tough situation, but this isn’t an easy league, being a professional footballer isn’t an easy occupation when you’ve got to play these games so the girls are just going to have to dig that little bit deeper, just to find the energy when it looks like it can’t be found, and I expect that to happen.”

Last time

Liberty A-League 2020/21 Round 12
Melbourne Victory 1-1 Canberra United
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Epping Stadium, Melbourne

An early goal from Angela Beard set Victory up when the teams last met almost a year ago.

But Nikki Flannery equalised late in the first half as the spoils were shared.

Head to head

Round 12, 2020/21: Victory 1-1 Canberra at Epping Stadium
Round 11, 2019/20: Victory 3-0 Canberra at Lakeside Stadium
Round 12, 2018/19: Canberra 0-0 Victory at Belconnen Soccer Centre
Round 1, 2017/18: Victory 2-1 Canberra at Epping Stadium
Round 14, 2016/17: Canberra 5-1 Victory at Belconnen Soccer Centre