Berisha denied Victory AFC homecoming
A disappointed Besart Berisha has been robbed of a box office showdown with his former club Melbourne Victory, after he was officially omitted from the Asian Champions League squad.
Berisha's club Sanfrecce Hiroshima faces Victory in Group F, starting with the March 12 game in Japan before the May 22 AAMI Park showdown.
The sharpshooter was hoping to win a place on the roster after he was initially left off, but Sanfrecce opted to stick with its other three foreigners, Brazilians Patric, Douglas Vieira and Swede Emil Salomonsson for this week's final squad submission deadline.
Berisha, 33, has played in Sanfrecce's pre-season games, scoring in last week's 3-0 win, but became a victim of the visa limitations which have affected his ex teammates Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Gui Finkler and now German Georg Niedermeier, who was omitted from Victory's 2019 campaign.
Having scored 86 goals in 137 games for Victory, Berisha recently opened up to the Herald-Sun about the possibility of the emotional reunion.
"I have thought about playing Victory at AAMI Park, it would be awkward. I feel like playing against Victory will be so emotional for me, probably one of the most emotional (moments) in my career,'' Berisha said.
"Honestly I had a feeling. When I left Victory, I knew Victory was going to be in the Champions League and I know that two teams in Japan are in the Champions League.
"It's not easy (playing against your old team) but you have to try and do your job.
"I knew a long time ago that this was a possibility. And this kind of situation, playing against my ex clubs and coaches always seems to follow me.
"I remember when I signed for Victory and played against them in the semi-final for Brisbane, it was really difficult. But that's my job (scoring), I have to do what I have to do for my club and try and win games.
"Victory was a very special time, the people, the supporters."
Berisha made seven appearances for Sanfrecce last season, after joining midway through the campaign.
Sanfrecce are away to Guangzhou R&F in Tuesday's opener, while Victory hosts Koreans FC Daegu at AAMI Park.