Victory can hold heads high despite disappointment in Japan

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An inspired effort against Vissel Kobe wasn’t enough to get the result for Tony Popovic’s underdogs, but there’s still plenty Melbourne Victory can take away from its short trip overseas.

When Andres Iniesta scored for Kobe inside 10 minutes, Victory could’ve easily rolled over and waved the white flag, honoured to have just made it this far.

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But clinical finishing from the electric Nick D’Agostino and substitute Ben Folami saw Victory force extra time, before eventually succumbing to Kobe’s overwhelming pressure, going down 4-3.

Pre-game Popovic emphasised that it was an “honour and a privilege” to be in Japan representing Melbourne Victory and the A-Leagues.

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“(Vissel Kobe is) a fantastic football club with fantastic players, we know it will be a big challenge but one we’re very excited to take on,” he said.

It was clear though that Popovic believed his club weren’t just there making up the numbers.

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“We’re going to give it everything. We feel we’re ready to play,” he said.

And give it everything they did, unfortunately it simply wasn’t quite enough against one of the richest clubs in Asia.

But, short of actually winning the game, this is about as good a result as Victory could have asked for if they wanted to prove to themselves and to everyone else that they can hang with the top teams in the league back home.

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With the top two teams in the competition coming up in consecutive fixtures, starting with the derby on March 19, the squad should go in brimming with confidence hoping to rattle off a couple of wins against high-calibre opposition.

And no-one should go in with more confidence than the aforementioned D’Agostino. With five goals in his past three matches and a call-up to the Socceroos, all in the past two weeks, “Daggers” is riding high.

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And while Melbourne City have been phenomenal this season, they’ve also given up the equal second-most goals in the A-League Men, meaning D’Agostino and Folami  should be licking their chops with the hope of opening up that defence.

Irrespective of the specifics though, Victory certainly showed something in this match against a quality opposition. The only question that remains is if that level of performance is the norm or the exception.

Feature Image Credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Mitchell Turner
Mitchell Turner
Third Year Undergraduate Arts Student at Monash University (Journalism Major). Generic sports tragic living out my failed dreams of going pro vicariously through other people.

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