Victory's star striker Marco Rojas will take stunning Hyundai A-League form into the international arena this week as he looks to power New Zealand to success in two World Cup qualifiers.
SWAPPING CLUB FOR COUNTRY
In his first season back in Australia since collecting the Johnny Warren Medal at the end of 2012/13, the Melbourne Victory star has been irresistible, topping the charts for combined goals (12) and assists (11) in the Hyundai A-League.
Rojas trades Victory blue for New Zealand’s all-white this week for World Cup qualifiers against Fiji in Lautoka on Saturday and Wellington on Tuesday.
And like the Socceroos, the Kiwis have had players jetting in from several different corners of the globe, with the in-camp preparation time limited in Wellington.
But Rojas hopes to take his current form and confidence from the Big V into the New Zealand national team.
“The mental side of it is probably the main thing. We know we’re a good team, " he said of the All Whites.
“If we play near to our best football we should be able to win these games.
“But football is a funny game sometimes and if you’re not mentally prepared then it evens out the field.
"That’s what we’ve worked on a lot and what we’re going to work on during this trip to make sure we are really prepared.
"There’s a good feeling around the camp, we know what we’re here for and what we need to do.”
VICTORY’S DEPLETED STRIKE FORCE
The international window will test Victory’s depth though; as well as being without Rojas, top scorer Besart Berisha is representing Kosovo for the first time and James Troisi’s outstanding recent form has been rewarded with a call-up to the Caltex Socceroos.
Between them, that trio has scored 36 of the side’s 48 goals this Hyundai A-League season.
Depth will be tested in Brisbane this weekend when the Big V face a Roar outfit still wounded from their late, and dramatic, loss in Adelaide.
Rojas also has Melbourne Victory team-mate Jai Ingham with him in the All Whites for the first time, after the 23 year-old attacker pledged his allegiance to the country of his mother’s birth.
“I think he made the right decision and I’m happy that he’s here with us,” said Rojas.
“Hopefully, you’ll see what kind of player he is over the next couple of games.”