A daunting first-up Asian Champions League trip to champions Guangzhou Evergrande hasn’t dampened James Troisi’s confidence his side can triumph.
Unlikely A-League top-scorer James Troisi is confident Melbourne Victory can handle a hectic schedule after qualifying for the Asian Champions League (ACL) group stage.
Victory have at least 14 games in the next nine weeks – including three trips to Asia and challenging A-League away days in Brisbane, Perth, Newcastle and Wellington to contend with in the season’s run-in.
After an AAMI Park date with late-season fliers Adelaide United on Saturday, Victory starts their ACL campaign with the toughest possible assignment: a mid-week trip to 2013 champions Guangzhou Evergrande.
Evergrande have won the past three Chinese titles and boast 2006 World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi, who is being paid many times more the A-League club’s salary cap for the privilege.
Their playing list includes several Chinese internationals headed by national captain Zheng Zhi and Italian international Alessandro Diamanti.
Diamanti played alongside Troisi in the Serie A last season, with the Victory man in no doubts of his quality.
“I watched him last season with Bologna, he’s a really good player,” Troisi said.
“It’s going to be tough. The whole group is tough but we’re looking forward to that.”
Victory’s mid-season form blip means they have yet to guarantee a spot in the A-League finals, but Troisi wouldn’t hear of the ACL being a distraction or a hindrance.
“We went through a hard patch but I think we’ve shaken that off and as a whole team started to play really well,” he said.
“I think it’s fantastic for me and the club.”
Despite his enthusiasm, Troisi cannot win the tournament with Victory as his loan agreement from Italian side Atalanta lasts only as long as the A-League season and a potential round of 16 ACL clash.
Troisi is the sole midfielder in a four-way tie at the top of the A-League golden boot alongside Jets striker Adam Taggart, Phoenix frontman Stijn Huysegems and Heart’s hat-trick hero David Williams with nine goals each.
Troisi’s ACL goal on Saturday and three A-League assists gives him a statistical edge over his rivals.
He’s happy with Victory’s ACL group stage matches which he equates to six more games to catch Ange Postecoglou’s eye ahead of the World Cup.
“One of the main reasons coming back here was to get into the Socceroos. It’s obviously in the back of my mind and every Australian player’s mind,” he said.
“Because I’m back scoring everyone thinks I’m back in form but for me I’ve been trying to do the same thing week in, week out.”
Troisi last played for the Socceroos in 2012 against Saudi Arabia and has yet to feature under Postecoglou.