Toivonen pushes case for Sydney clash


Melbourne Victory Head Coach Kevin Muscat says Ola Toivonen has spent the international break pressing his case to lead the line come Sunday evening. 

“[Ola]’s done everything to put himself in a position where he wants to start,” Muscat said Saturday.

“He’s champing at the bit because he wanted to start his season four weeks ago.

“He’s trained the last two weeks solid and hasn’t missed a session. His fitness is improving and day in, day out his quality increases, too.”

Toivonen suffered a calf strain late in Melbourne Victory’s preparation for the new season, missing the Club’s opening three fixtures before making his debut as a substitute in the 4-1 win over Central Coast Mariners a fortnight ago.

In a short cameo the Swede provided glimpses of what he will bring to Melbourne Victory’s attack, culminating in the pass that teed up fellow substitute Josh Hope for the Tasmanian’s first A-League goal.

Having seen his front third click just prior to the week off, Muscat is excited about the potential of Toivonen partnering Kosta Barbarouses.

“It’s nice to have a couple of options available to us.

“We’ve got four strikers on the books but only one has been available for the past couple of weeks.

“Kosta has done a fantastic job in that time, but to have two available [for selection] now is exciting.

“I said at the start of the season we had some flexibility in the front third and thats been shown to be the case of late.”

The match-up brings Muscat into competition with new Sydney FC boss Steve Corica on the sidelines for the first time, and it’s far from the only occasion their careers have intersected. 

“We go back a long way,” Muscat began.

“The Australian Institute of Sport, the under 20 national team, at [Wolverhamption Wanderers] we were together for a good number of years, senior national team, parts of the Olympic team… we go back a long, long way.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Steve, he’s had a great career and I wish him well in his coaching career.”

As for what Corica has brought to the undefeated Sky Blues, Muscat says the changes are subtle.

“Watching the way the go about things there have been some changes, but nothing drastic.

“Personnel has been the biggest change, but I’m sure Steve will stamp his own idea on things in time.”