Melbourne Victory striker Besart Berisha will continue to take the penalties for his team so long as he feels confident, according to coach Kevin Muscat.
Berisha has failed to convert three penalties this season including a save from Melbourne City goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis in last week’s 2-1 win in the derby.
Muscat did not want to weigh into Bouzanis’ racial slur to the Albanian striker as City squandered their one-goal lead.
The goalkeeper called Berisha a “f***ing gypsy” which was caught on TV, but the Victory boss said the situation was “dead and buried”.
Victory take on Newcastle Jets on Monday night away. The game was originally meant for Saturday evening but was postponed due to the extreme heat.
The Victory boss has form in backing Berisha this season and comforted the striker who was in tears after the derby last week.
And should Victory earn a penalty against the Jets, Muscat said he had no issues with who takes it.
“It’s an unprecedented territory for him (Berisha) and you can see how much it meant to him,” Muscat said.
“It probably meant more to him that he felt he let the boys down, rather than him scoring himself if that makes sense.
“He places a great burden on his shoulders about being the best team player he can be. Coincidentally pops up in the 83rd minute and he’s in the right place at the right time once again, we quickly had to remind him how many times he’s pulled us out of the fire in games.
“He’s had a big smile on his face this week, he’s had a good week.”
Muscat also spoke about Jets winger Andrew Nabbout, who began his career with Victory with all guns blazing in 2012/13 and will line-up against his former club for the second time this season.
Nabbout has seven goals to his name to season and Muscat also said he was happy former players were getting an opportunity elsewhere.
“He’s (Nabbout) been fairly consistent I think, he’s done reasonably well for them,” he said.
“Andrew Hoole on the other side has been causing some problems for teams.
“They’re striving for that consistency that everyone is as well. From that perspective, both (Nabbout and Hoole) on either wing and in transition they’re lively, quick and very direct, we are well aware of that.
“We’re pretty proud of the way we go about giving players opportunity and exposure and ultimately there’s been a number of players who have moved on from our club and the majority, if not all of them have left with a good taste in their mouth.”
Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas also praised his former teammate Nabbout and jokingly said Jason Geria and Leigh Broxham would take care of him.
Thomas also said Nabbout was doing everything he could to put his hand up for a Socceroos debut.
“He’s been outstanding this year, he’s really stood up in the starting XI and is really performing every week,” Thomas said.
“For when he was here he has incredible work ethic and self-belief and he’s doing brilliantly at the moment.”
(MAIN PHOTO: A teary Berisha hugs winger Marco Rojas after last week's 2-1 derby win over City. Ashley Perez Photography)