Victory claim home win against Mariners

Melbourne Victory 2-0 Central Coast Mariners / 19 Mar 2023


AAMI Park. Photo: AsianFC (CC BY 2.0)

Melbourne Victory head coach Tony Popovic admits youngster Fernando Romero needs work – despite scoring his maiden A-League goal.

The 22-year-old Paraguayan Fernando Romero made up one half of the score sheet, in Victory’s 2-0 win over Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park.

But he was a given straight red card for a challenge just 11 minutes after scoring.

While Popovic praised the goal he said he wanted to see Romero progress in his A-league stint.

“A fantastic goal, great movement, and that’s what the young kids got [but] he needs more work,” he said.

“He knows he has to be fitter and stronger to be able to get through games here; [the match tempo] here is very different to Paraguay where it’s a very slow tempo.”

Romero signed with Victory on loan in February this from Cerro Porteno in Paraguay’s Primera division, and has so far made five appearances under Popovic.

“We signed the young player that’s never been out of Paraguay that didn’t know what jet lag was when he got here, so it’s a real learning curve for the young man,” Popovic said.

Romero signed with Victory for one season as he was looking for experience outside of Paraguay.

Whether or not the boys in blue will keep him is unknown.

“He wants to stay here he’s happy but ultimately we’ve got to decide that for next year but for now we’re happy with him,” Popovic said.

The victory against Central Coast was the club’s 6th win of the season; it remains last on the table.

Despite defeating the fourth placed Mariners, Popovic recognises the team’s struggles.

“We haven’t won two consecutive games – unless we achieve that, we have no right to be talking about finals,” he said.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a clean sheet…if you want to compete with the best teams, you have to be able to do that regularly.”