Dream come true for Victory debutant

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Kenny Athiu came on as substitute during Melbourne Victory’s 3-3 draw with Ulsan Hyundai in the AFC Champions League and felt it was an unreal moment for his career.

Athiu came on to replace Besart Berisha and while he couldn’t grab a goal he was able to make things happen to add an extra spark to Victory’s attack. The on-loan Heidelberg forward thinks it’s more about the experience rather than expecting too much despite looking back on the missed chances he had.

“It was very exciting I was glad to come on, contribute to the team and hoping to score a winning goal or something but didn’t come,” he said.

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“I had more than enough chances but I feel more sharpness, more game-time does help to put those chances away in the future.

“The good thing about being a striker is you look for the positives, I did get into the positions but I’ll probably have some problems sleeping tonight that I didn’t put them away, I guess I’ll look at the positives and build from that.

“When you come on the tempo is high, everything is 100 miles an hour so you just try control the nerves and steady yourself.

Athiu featured in Victory colours for just the third time in all competitions but got his first taste of Asian Champions League action.

Running around against Ulsan albeit for only 20 minutes is a valuable learning curve for his development.

He looks forward to potentially facing prominent Brazilians Oscar and Hulk when Victory travel to face Shanghai SIPG.

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“It’s a massive deal for me, I’m enjoying every minute of it, that’s the way I’m looking at it,” Athiu said.

“Looking back all the work I’ve been putting in over the last couple years is starting to work out for me so I’m really happy with that.

“Heading to Shanghai is exciting but I’m not the biggest fan of the cold, I have all the gear to keep warm I guess. It’s another exciting trip and hopefully we can get the points there.

“I’ve only seen Oscar and Hulk on TV so it’s just one of those things you can dream of but that’s the greatest thing about this competition you get to play against great players around the world.”

Athiu is already a cult hero for the Victory fan-base and he is taking it in his stride. He’s loving the fact that he’s so heavily backed as he’s still making his mark since joining from Heidelberg United.

“I’m loving every moment of it we’ve got great supporters, they have supported me ever since I came here. I try to go repay their faith on the park and hopefully score some goals.”

“You still get the goose bumps but you do get used to it, I mean today was my third game playing in front of the crowd and as exciting as it is you have to control yourself and go out to do your job.

“It’s getting easier and easier to control myself but I still get excited coming on and everyone’s screaming my name.”

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Liam Watson
Liam Watson
Intern for Melbourne Victory and Media and Communications student at La Trobe University.

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