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Jul 23, 2013

Johnston hoping for Victory miracle

For the first time since he signed with Liverpool more than 30 years ago, Craig Johnston hopes they get beaten against Melbourne Victory on Wednesday night.

Australia's Johnston, one of the country's first and finest football exports, spent eight years at Anfield and became one of Liverpool's most revered players in one of the greatest English sides ever.

As an Australian making his way in England - and from a nation with no football pedigree - Johnston had to do it the hard way.

But with the A-League rising in both standard and status, he knows how important it is for Ange Postecoglou's side to acquit themselves well against the English Premier League giants at the MCG with the world watching.

"Playing against Liverpool, they'll remember it for as long as they live," Johnston said.

"They're going to find out how fast and accurate English footballers are. All you can say to the lads is `you've got to think faster than them and do things faster'.

"For the first time in my life, I want Liverpool to get beat. Why?

"Because it's not a league game, it's a pre-season friendly, and I like what Ange does. He's the best thing to happen to football in this country.

"This is their Cup final, and for Liverpool, it's a pre-season friendly."

Now 53, Johnston featured in five English league title victories, a European Cup win, and scored a memorable winner in the 1986 FA Cup final at Wembley against Merseyside rivals Everton.

He quit at the height of his career in 1988, when his sister became seriously ill and needed constant medical attention.

With Victory set to field an understrength side in the sellout clash, all eyes will be on whether Liverpool striker Luis Suarez plays.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said Suarez, who is believed to want out of the club with Premier League rivals Arsenal reportedly interested, was a valued member of the team and would play against the Victory.

But Liverpool aren't expected to play Suarez and skipper Steven Gerrard for the entire match, as the Reds get miles in the legs of their players ahead of the English Premier League season starting next month.

The Victory are without Socceroos trio Archie Thompson, Mark Milligan and Mitch Nichols, and will field seven players under 21 in their starting 11.

Fans queued for hours on Tuesday night to watch Liverpool train in a special session at the MCG.

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