Melbourne Victory marksman James Troisi is hoping his return to goal-scoring form is perfectly timed ahead of Saturday’s sudden death AFC Champions League duel against Thailand’s Muangthong United in Geelong.
The A-League’s joint top scorer broke a seven-game lean streak to snare a double in the weekend’s 3-1 win over defending champion Central Coast – and is now tied with Wellington Phoenix star Stein Huysegems on nine goals after 18 rounds.
But Troisi, who is desperate to extend his season to boost his chances of FIFA 2014 World Cup selection, won’t be too concerned if he doesn’t score against Muangthong – so long as Victory reaches the ACL group stages where defending champion Guangzhou Evergrande (China), Yokohama F. Marinos (Japan) and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (South Korea) await.
“It was good to be back among the goals again against the Mariners because we’d had a pretty rough spell as a team before that and were not performing as we should,” said the on-loan attacker.
“Obviously, if I am scoring it gives the team another attacking dimension but I am not an out-and-out striker in our system and so to have got nine so far isn’t bad, especially when I have also chipped in with a few assists (three) along the way.
“For me, it’s more important how the team plays as a unit and we’re starting to get things together again after falling away for a few weeks – that’s a good sign going into the game against Muangthong.
“We just weren’t clicking and it was a worrying time but I think that’s behind us now.
“The coaching staff have been doing their homework on Muangthong and once the game comes around I think we’ll have quite a few insights on what we need to do.
“The research indicates they are a more than decent team who will give us plenty to think about but I am sure we will be fully prepared.
“This competition is really vital for us as a club and also as players. On a personal level, I want to be playing as close to the World Cup as possible to give myself the best chance of being selected.
“And as a club, there’s a lot of prestige that comes with the competition and we want to fly the flag for Australia and show we can mix it with the best in Asia.”
During Victory's form dip, Troisi even found himself starting off the bench against Perth Glory in Round 17, adding: “I didn’t really know why that was but the boss (Kevin Muscat) makes the calls and it’s my job to do as well as I can when I am in the side.
“As a player, you have to take these things on the chin.
“I have to say that I am enjoying my time with Victory and I feel I made the right decision to return home after a frustrating season in Italy (at Atalanta) and to be playing again and scoring and making goals is what I want.
“Beyond this season? Who knows what will happen, because in football just about anything can. I am just going to concentrate on making an impression with Victory and if I do that I will get noticed and things can change from there.”
Troisi believes Victory’s creative hub: himself, Tom Rogic, Gui Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses – can damage any team on their day.
“We’re starting to combine quite well and hopefully that understanding will only improve,” he added.
“When you have players with pace and vision you are always going to create chances – and that’s what we’re starting to do again.”
A refereeing decision to wave away a penalty shout for a foul on Kosta Barbarouses ended Melbourne Victory's AFC Champions League campaign.