For not the first time this season, Osama Malik expects to have his hands full, although he does not just see former United midfielder Marcos Flores as the only threat.
For not the first time this season, Adelaide United FC midfielder Osama Malik expects to have his hands full trying to contain one of the Hyundai A-League-s most skilful playmakers in the form of Marcos Flores on Friday night, although he does not see Melbourne Victory-s number 10 as the only threat the Reds will have to stop.
Malik, who has all but confirmed his spot in United-s defensive midfield role this season, has had some big jobs across the first nine rounds. The likes of Shinji Ono, Alessandro Del Piero, Liam Miller and Thomas Broich all spring to mind as players Malik has confronted so far in Season 8, and on Friday night he will be faced with another huge test against Melbourne Victory-s talented mix of attacking midfielders for the second time.
While the contest between Malik and Flores is a tantalising prospect, the 22 year old also has Gui Finkler and Marco Rojas on his radar.
“If I-m playing I-ll obviously be up against Flores and Finkler, who are two pretty creative players, so it would be my job to keep them pretty quiet and hopefully I can do that if I play,” Malik said.
“Going forward they-ve got a lot of quality players. They sort of play with five going forward and you-ve got (Marco) Rojas in good form as well, so there-s not one single player we have to look out for, it-s them as a whole so we-ll have to be on our game.”
Much of the attention leading up to the 29th Hyundai A-League meeting between the two cross border rivals has centred on Flores- return to Hindmarsh Stadium for the first time since he joined the Victory in the off season after previously spending a year at the Reds and followed by a stint in China.
Flores- decision to sign with the Victory obviously ruffled some feathers amongst the United faithful, however Malik claims there is definitely no ill feeling as far as the players in red are concerned.
“It-s water under the bridge,” Malik said of Flores- move to Melbourne.
“Things happen in football, people move on, he obviously left here to go to China and we didn-t expect him to come back, obviously it would have been great if he did, but he moved on, he went to Melbourne, we-ve got to live with that and I-m sure we-ll move on and I think we have, we-ve done pretty well without him.”
Although Malik is aware of what Melbourne has in its arsenal and will have a key responsibility to curtail their influence, he emphasised that most of the Reds- attention would be on how they go about taking it up to the Victory.
“We-ll be focusing on what we can do and hopefully we can pass the ball around and put on a good show for the fans,” Malik said.
“We know they-re a great side and they-re improving week by week but if we do our own thing and play well I-m sure we can get a good result.”
Fresh back from the Qantas Socceroos training camp last week, Malik admits the experience has given him greater confidence in his ability and a belief that he has what it takes to be regarded as one of Australia-s most promising young talents.
“To be honest I was very surprised to be there (in the Socceroos camp) in the first place, so I just loved the chance to play with some of the best in the country, and it has made me hungrier to strive and improve myself to hopefully get another opportunity in the future,” Malik said.
A strong performance against Melbourne would certainly reiterate Malik-s growing reputation in the Hyundai A-League and he cannot wait to be part of another massive Reds v Victory encounter that sees both teams with plenty to play for.
“It-s second against third and if we win we have the chance to go back to the top of the table,” Malik said.
“Any game between Adelaide and Melbourne is a big game and obviously it-s one we want to win.”
Meanwhile, Reds attacking midfielder Dario Vidosic completed a full training session this morning in a sign that he is on track to be considered for selection on Friday night. Tickets for the match are available through Ticketek.