Kenny Athiu scored his first two goals for Melbourne Victory last week in the AFC Champions League and in the A-League during a 2-1 comeback against Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.

On the eve of the A-League finals, Athiu has shown that he can contribute in a big way off the bench and offer a different dimension to Victory’s attack.

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As a replacement for Besart Berisha, Athiu was fouled by Dylan Fox to earn a penalty and then popped up in the right position to head in a classy James Troisi cross. Athiu will be even more of a cult hero if he can play his role to perfection like he did against the Nix.

It’s taken a while to get on the scoresheet but his recent appearances would give his confidence a boost. Head coach Kevin Muscat is pleased for Athiu who is starting to realise his potential.

“If you get players like Kenny from a semi-professional environment it takes them time,” Muscat said.

“We shouldn’t underestimate the difference in training and habits.

“You’re working nine till five for however many years and all of a sudden I’m asking him to change all his habits.

“It’s taken him a while but as that’s happening, he’s not getting enough football.

“The difficulty for him should not be underestimated.”

With Leroy George starting on the bench and Kosta Barbarouses suspended, it gave attacking players on the fringe a greater opportunity to perform whether that be starting or as substitute.

Athiu, Jai Ingham and Christian Theoharous all had a decent run with the latter playing 90 minutes for the first time.

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The main message from Muscat to the inexperienced players is to grasp the chance and learn. Squad depth is highly important for A-League clubs and giving these players extra game time is always beneficial.

“Kenny is offering something now and albeit it was about 30 minutes he played you can see towards the end he’s sucking in the big ones,” Muscat said.

“It’s the same as Christian he gets a start tonight and it’s education for them now.

“I asked Christian after the game now you realise what it takes, depending on how far you want to go in the game use this as a learning tool.

“He can be so much better and he showed good glimpses as Kenny did but he’s got a lot of scope to improve.”

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Liam Watson is covering Melbourne Victory this season while completing Media and Communications at La Trobe University.