Kenny Athiu Helps Victory Book Home Finals

Substitute Kenny Athiu secured Melbourne Victory a home A-League elimination final in a late 2-1 win against Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.

The 25-year-old came off the bench to replace Besart Berisha in the 72nd minute to then be involved in both late goals.

The Sudanese-born striker, who is on loan from National Premier League club Heidelberg United, was brought down in the box by Phoenix’s Dylan Fox.

Leroy George converted the penalty, smashing home the equaliser, after Phoenix had gone ahead early in the first half through veteran Leigh Broxham who while on the ground, threw a foot out to try to clear the ball only for it to land in the net past his own goalkeeper.

Athiu scored the winner in the 87th minute after he dived for a header to beat Sail after a beautiful ball from James Troisi.

“Players like Kenny (Athiu) come in from a semi-professional environment and we shouldn’t underestimate the difference in training and habits,” stated Victory coach Kenny Muscat, referring to Athiu’s time at Heidelberg United.

“You’re working nine to five for however many years and your body creates habits. All of a sudden, I’m asking him to change these habits. But whilst that’s happening, he is not getting enough football.”

“Kenny (Athiu) works tirelessly. He came on the other night and scored and he was involved in the penalty tonight. Then he scores the winner, which was a great ball by (James) Troisi,” added Muscat.

After the match Athiu said: “It’s a great feeling. I’ve waited a long time to start getting some game time.

“The patience obviously the coach has shown in me and also my teammates in helping me to develop – I’m really grateful tonight. I feel that should be the standard for me to go on from here.”