Melbourne Victory head coach Kevin Muscat says defenders around the Hyundai A-League should be shaking in their boots at the prospect of facing Marco Rojas.
The Kiwi winger, who returned to Victory late last month after three difficult years at German club VfB Stuttgart, made his first appearance for Muscat’s side in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Sydney FC on Wednesday.
Rojas shone in his 65 minutes on the pitch, setting up a goal and scoring another as Victory defeated Sydney 3-1 at AAMI Park.
With the German league season having already started before he departed Stuttgart for Victory, Rojas has arrived in Melbourne looking very sharp.
“You can just see that he’s got ability,” Muscat told reporters after the pre-season friendly.
“He’s got very, very good technique and he’s sharp.
“You could just sense when the ball got to him and he isolated his full-back, there was a little bit of, maybe panic, because he can certainly beat his defender.”
Rojas was lively throughout the first half, playing a role in both of Victory’s goals as the home side went into the break 2-1 ahead.
The 24-year-old New Zealand international lined up on the right of Victory’s 4-2-3-1 formation and regularly found pockets of space to turn and attack Sydney’s defence.
In the 15th minute, Rojas’ defence-splitting cross-field pass found Mitch Austin surging into the box from the left wing.
Austin was fouled by Rhyan Grant and Victory was awarded a penalty, which Besart Berisha converted.
After Brandon O’Neill equalised for Sydney, Rojas then put Victory ahead after being released in behind the Sky Blues’ defence by James Troisi and firing past Vedran Janjetovic in goal.
Austin scored Victory’s third goal with 21 minutes remaining.
While both Troisi and Rojas can play in various positions in the front third, Muscat confirmed he sees the former as a central playmaker and the latter as a winger.
“We’ve settled in how we want to play and you can just see from James as well, once he gets some minutes under his belt, he wants to break forward and he wants to get into goal-scoring positions,” Muscat said.
“Again, he’s quality, I mean the ball for the second goal was outstanding. I like him in and around those areas centrally because I want him on the ball as much as possible.”
With the likes of Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Leigh Broxham, Nick Ansell and Daniel Georgievski left out of the starting line-up against Sydney, Muscat has warned his squad that “there’s not too many that are safe” in the first XI.
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