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Mar 04, 2019   |  10:42PM AET

Muscat: We intend to be positive

Muscat: We intend to be positive

Melbourne Victory Head Coach Kevin Muscat is eager for the challenge ahead of his team’s seventh AFC Champions League campaign, which gets underway on Tuesday evening at home to Daegu FC.

The Group F opener pits the reigning Hyundai A-League Champions against South Korea’s FA Cup Winners, and Muscat is both embracing and looking forward to the challenge of tackling the best Club sides in Asia.

“We’re not looking any further than the game tomorrow,” he said.

“Naturally it’s exciting to be in the competition once again. We earned the opportunity to be in this competition, so we intend to be really positive about the way we go about it.

“Without doubt we want to win games and win enough games to get out of the group. The reality is to do that we have to perform well and that starts tomorrow night.”

Daegu is first up in a group that also contains Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande and Sanfrecce Hiroshima of Japan, and the Victory brains trust have done their homework.

“We’ve done quite a bit of work on them, naturally. [The players] have been given a complete run down of how they go about playing. 

“They started their [league season] on the weekend just gone, drawing away to Jeonbuk 1-1, so on a real high.

“Daegu have got a mix, a blend [of styles], they can be very direct and they can build up from the back. They’ve got a Brazilian coach and three of their foreigners are Brazilian, also, so they’ve got some good players.

“Like I said it’s a great opportunity against a good team.”

Muscat took part in Melbourne Victory’s first foray into the competition as a player in 2008, leading his side to a second-placed finish in Group G at a time when only the top team from each group progressed. 

During his long affiliation with the Club and this tournament, he has witnessed enormous growth at home and abroad. 

“The way the [competition] has evolved has been rapid.

“You take into consideration the nations we’re up against, the influx of foreigners into China that has blown the competition apart, the influx of foreign coaches through the different regions and countries we play against… from a technical and tactical perspective it’s gone forward in leaps and bounds.

“It’s just exciting being in a competition to put yourself up against different opponents, different types of football and a different tactical battle.”

Having missed out on league action at the weekend, star import Ola Toivonen and Club captain Carl Valeri are in the frame to feature, with Muscat saying the pair will each play a part on Tuesday night.

“Ola has progressed well. We had a light run this morning, so we’ll wait and see how he reacts and what sort of level he’s at.

“We have [a while] until kick-off, so we will utilise that time to analyse him. As you can imagine, he was wanting to be out there on the weekend, but he couldn’t get up for the game.

“He wants to play, he wants to be available. He’ll play some part in the game.

“Carl will be involved. It’s unlikely he’ll start the game… but having him in and around the group is a real positive for us.

“He’s such an influential person in our football club and we’re very fortunate to have him around.”

Melbourne Victory members receive a 20% discount on AFC Champions League tickets.

ACL MD1 tickets