'Kiwi Messi' Marco Rojas sets A-League alight

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 31/12/2012
Marco Rojas
Getty Images
KIWI MESSI: Marco Rojas (right) celebrates with Archie Thompson after scoring the opening goal for Melbourne Victory against Newcastle Jets.

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Marco Rojas is being hailed by Australia's football media as the 'Kiwi Messi' following his latest matchwinning heroics in the A-League.

And European clubs could soon swoop for the 21-year-old All White, who comes off contract with the Melbourne Victory in April.

Hamilton-born Rojas scored two exquisite goals in Friday's 3-2 win over Newcastle and set up the other - his fifth assist of the season.

The pint-sized winger, who is managed by his Chilean father Rodi, now has nine goals for the campaign - level with the Phoenix's Jeremy Brockie and one behind Daniel McBreen (Mariners).

Melbourne media speculated Rojas' transfer value was between A$600,000 and $1 million, but not surprisingly Victory coach Ange Postecoglou is urging him to stay.

"My advice is for him to have at least one more year and then he'll be ready to go," said Postecoglou, who also oversaw the rise of Wellington product Kosta Barbarouses, now with Greek giants Panathanaikos.

"He's a talented player, we've all seen that. He's been fantastic in terms of his work ethic. He can still get better and the beauty of it is he'll rock up to training looking to do that."

The sixth-placed Phoenix tackle Rojas and the Victory on Saturday in Melbourne after visiting the Roar in Brisbane tomorrow night.

Phoenix winger Louis Fenton has drawn comparisons to Rojas and said he was in awe of the competition's standout player.

"He's definitely the best player in the league at the moment, he's setting the league alight," Fenton said.

"Some of the stuff he's doing is just amazing. He's scoring every week, setting up every week, so if I could do that I'd be very happy."

Fenton is also in good touch after scoring the opener in Thursday's 3-2 comeback win over the Melbourne Heart.

He has moved out of his parents' Tawa home and into an Evans Bay apartment owned by coach Ricki Herbert and shared by clubmates Tyler Boyd and Luke Rowe.

"I guess it's probably about time," Fenton said.

"I'm 19 now so I'm slowly growing up and they're probably happy about it. One less person for them to cook and clean for, but it's not the best for me now, having to do my own. But being with Tyler all the time is good for our play, it makes it easier for us to link up and get along easy."

The Phoenix flew out of Wellington yesterday and Herbert said he would almost certainly stick with a winning side against Brisbane.

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However, Benjamin Totori would "more than likely" start against the Victory, in place of either Boyd or Fenton, to ease the burden of a busy schedule.

Uncapped utility Cameron Lindsay has travelled as part of a 16-man squad.

He is providing cover for right back Leo Bertos, who has a hamstring niggle, and holding midfielder Manny Muscat, who is one yellow card away from suspension.

The 20-year-old was set to make his debut against the Heart in round two but was cruelly ruled out because of food poisoning.

"I waited such a long time to get a chance and I finally did and something crazy like that happened," Lindsay said.

"I had chicken on the plane and I was fine until I went to bed. I spent the whole night throwing up. But hopefully I get a chance this time. I had a good feed today so I'm probably going to steer clear of it [plane food] this time."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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