Velaphi to debut for Victory in ACL clash

April 3, 2011
By Adrian Warren

Caretaker coach Mehmet Durakovic is set to give goalkeeper Tando Velaphi his club debut and punt on youth for Melbourne Victory's must-win Asian Champions League clash with Tianjin Teda in China on Tuesday.

Injuries to striker Danny Allsopp (groin), midfielder Marvin Angulo (hamstring) and defender Matthew Kemp (knee) forced Durakovic into making changes to his side, who lost their first two ACL games.

Young defender Matthew Foschini will start at right back, with Leigh Broxham set to run on in midfield, as Billy Celeski has been laid low by a tummy bug.

Playmaker Carlos Hernandez will also return to the starting side, lining up in front of a four-man midfield and just behind sole striker Archie Thompson.

Durakovic, who replaced Ernie Merrick last month, revealed recently recruited shot stopper Velaphi was in line to start in front of veteran Michael Petkovic.

"I just think Tando has done really, really well at training the whole month and a half," Durakovic said in a teleconference on Monday.

"I've known Petka all my life, I just think it's maybe time to give a youngster a bit of a chance and see what he's like in a very important game."

Asked if the choice of former Perth goalkeeper Velaphi ahead of the vastly more experienced Petkovic was a risk, Durakovic said "it is, and I'm prepared".

Socceroos striker Robbie Kruse is likely to come off the bench following a gruelling week of travel after Australia's 2-1 win over Germany in Monchengladbach.

"He just got back on Friday morning, so he's had a really long trip and the next day we had to fly to South Korea and to China, so he's a bit jet lagged and a bit tired," Durakovic said.

"Robbie is getting as much treatment as he can off the pitch and hopefully he might come on in the second half."

Durakovic suggested Victory would look to play a counter-attacking style.

Bottom of their four-team group, Melbourne face a stiff task against leaders Tianjin, who picked up a maximum six points from the first two rounds.

"If we get a win here, it will be absolutely phenomenal for our chances to qualify in the next round, because we've got them in two weeks back home," Durakovic said.

"Having said that even a draw will put us in not a bad position. Either a draw or a win would be fantastic."