Archie Thompson says Melbourne Victory star Besart Berisha’s two match ban for pushing a referee may be a little excessive, believing that the striker did not have any ill-intentions towards the official.
The A-League’s all-time leading goalscorer was last night found guilty of unsporting conduct towards official Daniel Elder in Victory’s 2-2 draw with rivals Adelaide United last week, and will miss the club’s matches against Central Coast and Western Sydney over the next fortnight.
Berisha also has two further matches suspended that will be triggered if another similar incident takes place this season.
Thompson says that while he understands that players must not make contact with officials, this latest incident isn’t clear cut, having only received a yellow card at the time of the offence.
“You can’t touch any referee, but when Bes (Berisha) crosses the white line, he is crazy. I think they might have taken that into account,” he told SEN’s The Run Home.
“I don’t think there was any malice in it because the fourth official actually ushered him away to the point where you need to stop, I know what I’ve done.
“I don’t know if this has happened in the A-League before and they are trying to set an example, but there wasn’t much malice.”
Thompson however backed his former side’s decision not to appeal the ban.
“He’s got two weeks. Justice is served, let’s move on and not talk about it,” he said.
“You don’t want that talk to take away from what’s happening in the A-League, which has already had a fantastic start,”
The Victory are winless from their opening three games of the A-League season, making the next two weeks without Berisha even more crucial for last season’s runners-up.
Thompson has earmarked striker Kenjok Athiu to fill in for Berisha, who was signed earlier this month on loan after scoring 57 goals in 92 appearances for National Premier League outfit Heidelberg United.
The ex-Socceroo says that he was impressed by the South Sudan-born 24-year-old, affectionately known as “King Kenny” by Heidelberg supporters, after seeing him first hand during a short stint with the NPL champions in 2016.
“I did see this boy and I was like, man, he’s very impressive. He could do very well in the A-League,” said Thompson.
“I actually mentioned it to one of the Perth recruitment guys and said that you should get this guy up to Perth... Thankfully he signed at Victory.
“Hopefully he comes in, he starts and does well. It then puts pressure on Bes because Bes in a way has been that number one striker. You want someone to come in and give a fight for that position.
“Victory need a win, they need to score goals and Kenny has done it at NPL level. Hopefully he can do it at A-League level.”
The Victory take on the Mariners this Sunday at 7:00 PM.