Victory take cautious step to ACL in Qatar

Shayne Hope
·2-min read

Star winger Marco Rojas admits there is apprehension in the Melbourne Victory camp surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic ahead of the Asian Champions League trip to Qatar.

But the New Zealand international is desperate for competitive football after a long hiatus and sees the continent's most prestigious competition as the perfect chance for Victory's new-look squad to gel ahead of the upcoming A-League campaign.

Victory will fly out of Australia with a skeleton support staff on Friday, joining Sydney FC and Perth Glory in the oil-rich state, where they resume in the ACL against Beijing Guoan on Tuesday night.

"Like everyone, I'm apprehensive about the travel and all of that but excited about the Champions League and excited to play some good football games," Rojas told reporters on Thursday.

"(The COVID-19 situation) is forever changing, isn't it? You saw it here in Australia ... so that's obviously in the background.

"But we've spoken about it as much as we can and we have all the information that we could possibly have at this stage and we're going over there knowing that we're being well cared for."

Victory have four Group E left matches to play - two against Chinese powerhouse Beijing Guoan and one each against Chiangrai United (Thailand) and FC Seoul (South Korea).

The Australian side sits third on three points from two games and must finish in the top two to progress to the knockout stages.

Socceroos star Robbie Kruse will miss the trip to Qatar as he recovers from a knee injury but Victory will be boosted by Australia Under-23 duo Ben Folami and Dylan Ryan.

The pair of recruits will meet most of their new teammates for the first time in Qatar.

"It will be difficult and it might show out there on the pitch, but you get used to that as a footballer," Rojas said.

"The only thing there won't be are the connections that you form over time by playing together, and that will take some time.

"We'll get to know each other a bit better and hopefully by the time we hit the A-League we'll be running smoothly."

The A-League season begins on December 27 and Victory are hopeful they will be able to play home games in front of crowds if Victoria's control of the coronavirus spread continues.