Milicic fuming at lack of protection for Macarthur star Dávila

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Macarthur’s 1-0 win over Central Coast Mariners put them top of the A-League Men table for the first time in their two-year history, but coach Ante Milicic has grave concerns over his star midfielder.

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that a Macarthur side stripped of its experienced players and even its home ground would take a fair chunk of time to get going in the new campaign. But as the Bulls fans flooded out of Panthers Stadium cowbells in hand, their team sat pretty atop the A-League Men’s pile.

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One man who showed on Sunday just how brightly he can shine for the Bulls, was captain Ulises Dávila. His performance far more rounded and influential than just his deflected winner, and one perhaps only outshone by goalkeeper Filip Kurto.

With 82 minutes played the Mexican was cleaned up by a late challenge from Mariners full-back Jacob Farrell who received a yellow card, leaving Milicic reeling in the post-match press conference.

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“No, he’s not okay,” he said bluntly when asked about the wellbeing of his number 10. “He’s not okay and now that you’ve brought it up, I am extremely disappointed first and foremost that a challenge like that done to the league’s best player doesn’t get punished.

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The newly appointed skipper ran rings around the away team while Macarthur began to assert their dominance half way through the first half.

There were two unmissable occasions on which Dávila was fouled and a yellow card was brandished, the other being a high boot from defender Ruon Tongyik in the first half.

“It’s been happening far, far too often,” said Milicic.

“Uli’s not feeling the best in there but as I said, that kind of challenge for me is totally unacceptable. For it to happen to the league’s best player and not get punished in the right way is frustrating.”

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In terms of replacing Dávila for however long the 30-year-old will be stuck on the sidelines, responsibility may be placed onto the shoulders of Tommy Oar. Having already displayed his versatility by playing in the centre of midfield on Sunday afternoon, Milicic heaped praise on the former Central Coast Mariner.

“Oar is a player who’s got a great deal of footballing intelligence,” he said.

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“When Jordon Mutch got injured we obviously had to fill that void, and I remember him playing as a six for Utretch a while back when I was with the Socceroos. I thought he had the characteristics to partner Charles (M’Mombwa) in the middle of the field and I thought he was very good today.”

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“He’s another one of those players that missed all of pre-season and didn’t get enough minutes into the legs. But with the time he got against Sydney FC and with our packed schedule coming up, I just took him off early to manage his load a little bit.”

It remains to be seen if the early mark given to Oar in Penrith will lead to his inclusion in place of Dávila in the coming matches.

Regardless of who will fill in for his captain, Milicic will be hoping that further examination reveals a lesser injury than what early signs have suggested.

“The hit was so bad on his ankle that his knee moved in a direction that’s caused him a lot of pain. He’ll be going for scans immediately,” he said.

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The Bulls go to Kogarah on Wednesday night to face Sydney FC in the FFA Cup round of 16.

Feature Image Credit: Macarthur FC

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Tom Macrae
Tom Macraehttp://medium.com/@macraetomr23
Communications undergrad at Western Sydney University covering Macarthur FC in the 2021/22 season. Newcastle United. Jack Grealish fangirl.

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