Muscat praises Athiu’s progression


Melbourne Victory Head Coach Kevin Muscat praised match-winner Kenny Athiu after the striker was involved in both of Victory’s goals against Wellington Phoenix.

In the 72nd minute, Athiu came off the bench to replace Besart Berisha and the 25-year-old made an impact soon after.

With less than ten minutes to go, Athiu was brought down inside the penalty area. The subsequent penalty was converted by Leroy George, before Athiu sealed all three points with a diving header.

“Players like Kenny (Athiu) come in from a semi-professional environment and we shouldn’t underestimate the difference in training and habits,” stated Muscat, referring to Athiu’s time at Heidelberg United.

“You’re working nine to five for however many years and your body creates habits. All of a sudden, I’m asking him to change these habits. But whilst that’s happening, he is not getting enough football.”

“Kenny (Athiu) works tirelessly. He came on the other night and scored and he was involved in the penalty tonight. Then he scores the winner, which was a great ball by (James) Troisi,” added Muscat.

The Victory Head Coach was also full of praise for Christian Theoharous, who played his first full 90 minutes for Victory on Sunday night.

“It’s educating for him (Athiu) and Theoharous now. Theoharous showed glimpses of how good he can be tonight – Kenny did too – but he (Theoharous) has a lot of scope to improve.”

George, who equalised from the spot in the 83rd minute, also received praise from Muscat along with Carl Valeri, both of whom were called upon early in the second half.

“It’s dangerous to make plans. I would have preferred to have been 4-0 up and not have to bring him (George) on at all. But you treat the game accordingly and with the respect it deserves.

“The three boys that came on gave us some energy and intensity and the others followed.”

Victory will now look to carry its momentum into Friday’s game against Sydney, which will be its last game of the Hyundai A-League season before finals.