A-League: Melbourne Victory to host Central Coat Mariners

Three straight defeats has Melbourne Victory coach Tony Popovic considering whether to drop goalkeeper Ivan Kelava.

Croatian goalkeeper Ivan Kelava looms as a potential fall guy for Melbourne Victory’s poor form since winning the FFA Cup final.

The Victory have lost three successive A-League matches since beating the Central Coast Mariners 2-1 in the Cup final at AAMI Park on February 5.

The teams meet again in the A-League on Saturday night at the same venue, with the Tony Popovic-coached Victory desperate to return to winning ways.

Kelava had poor game in the Victory’s 2-0 midweek loss to Western Sydney, with poor positioning and hesitation leading to both goals, including one from the penalty spot when the keeper bundled over Wanderers’ substitute Bernie Ibini.

Popovic would not commit to selecting Kelava this weekend, with reserve keeper Matt Acton waiting in the wings.

“I’ve not said that he’s going to start or not start,” the Wanderers mentor said of the experienced gloveman he also coached during the pair’s time at Greek club Xanthi.

“We could’ve done better before the ball got in the box and Ivan could’ve done better with the decisions.

“Of course Ivan will review his work. I stick by him whether he plays or not.

“If a player doesn’t start a game it’s not about being happy (or unhappy) with a player.

“Whoever is selected for this match, the players that aren’t selected are still expected to be ready to play.”

Popovic was adamant the Victory were “not far off” their best despite the hat-trick of defeats.

“Losing three games in a row in such a short space of time is certainly not ideal,” he said.

“We just have to remember that when we played here in the Cup final we were on a very good run, we were near the top of the table, and 10 days later we haven’t played poorly, and lost games.

“We haven’t played well (either), so we have an opportunity (on Saturday) to put a good performance in.”

“I’m confident we will get the three points we desire.”

Victory skipper Josh Brillante will be again available for selection after he was suspended for the loss to the Wanderers.

Originally published as Heat is on Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Ivan Kelava after poor performance

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