Decisions to make for Muscat ahead of crucial clash


Melbourne Victory Head Coach Kevin Muscat has some ‘food for thought’ ahead of Sunday’s Elimination Final at AAMI Park.

After watching his young side defeat Shanghai SIPG on Wednesday, Muscat has some decisions to make about his team for the do-or-die clash.

“After Wednesday, I bet a few (players) wished they had played,” Muscat said.

“The night showed the unity of our group and the older players in the team looked after the younger players. They showed they cared and it was a good performance.”

Victory hosts rivals, Adelaide United in a battle between fourth and fifth, with the winner to go on to face Sydney next weekend.

In the previous three meetings between Victory and Adelaide, each side has claimed a win, with the other ending in a 2-2 draw.

Last time out, Victory prevailed with an emphatic 3-0 win thanks to a goal and an assist from Leroy George.

With sudden death hanging over the contest, this Sunday’s meeting promises to be tense affair and another thrilling chapter in the ‘Original Derby’ series.

On approaching an Elimination Final…

“The way this football club plays football has always been proactive and wanting to win games, wherever we play. With that mindset, you’re almost playing sudden-death football week in week out. If anything, the 27 rounds has prepared us for the game on Sunday night. There certainly won’t be anything different from our perspective, in terms of the way we attack the game.”

On Adelaide United…

“Right up until Round 27 we’ve seen results that can turn your head a little bit. We would rather consider ourselves and worry about ourselves, but like I said we’ve been getting stronger and stronger and that will be our objective again on Sunday night.”

“We’ve analysed the opposition and from our perspective, it is about playing to our strengths. It is going to be a contest and it will be competitive, like every final should be but the principal for us is to work hard on our strengths.”

On Victory’s recent form…

“The last month or two has been really encouraging. Wednesday night was testament to that and it just goes to show where the group is at the moment. It’s obviously a big game and you want to be involved in these games when they do come around.”

On team selection, following Wednesday’s win…

“It has certainly given us some food for thought. Everybody is available, the week has been good and preparation has been going really well. It should be a really exciting game and I am looking forward to it.”

On midfield selection…

“I think he (Josh Hope) has been making steady progress and performed really well on Wednesday night. We’ve had a look at what we think the best combination is going to be and confirm it with the players on Saturday afternoon.”

On finals football…

“All finals should be exciting. It’s this sense of achievement that you’re playing in finals and this Elimination Final gives us an opportunity at AAMI Park, our home where our recent form has been excellent. We’ve been getting stronger and stronger at home and we look to build on that on Sunday night.”

On progressing in the finals…

“The group, the football club and everyone involved has made a lot of sacrifices throughout the year. For me to start using energy on something else or next week’s game… my conscience wouldn’t be clear that I’m giving the group everything that they need. My focus is on the job in hand tomorrow night.”