Squad relief is just around the corner for Victory


Melbourne Victory Head Coach Kevin Muscat has moved on from a last-start defeat – the team’s first loss in five matches – and has used the short turnaround from Sunday to this coming Friday as an opportunity.

“[We’ve prepared] as we normally do,” Muscat said on Wednesday.

“From a performance perspective last weekend wasn’t where we wanted it to be, so we’ve reviewed that and moved on.

“We head across to Auckland and we’re anticipating a good game. We’ve played them twice already and both matches ended in stalemates – both were exciting games, as well.

“So we go across hoping for [another] exciting game and that we get the points this time.”

Friday night’s Eden Park encounter will be the third meeting between the two sides in just 10 rounds, so Muscat and his team are well aware of the Phoenix’s threats.

“There are certain instances where you feel we could’ve done better, but the way we want to play, we understand there are areas we have to be switched on [against Wellington].

“Our game style falls into their hands, so to speak, with the amount of pace they’ve got on transition. But we’re going to go there, not take a backwards step and try to win a game of football on our terms.”

Muscat was able to welcome Keisuke Honda back into his squad last weekend and the Japanese star joined fellow imports Raul Baena and Georg Niedermeier in playing vital minutes on the road to full fitness.

January signing James Donachie has also travelled with the squad ahead of a possible re-debut.

Having endured a challenging time with injury and unavailability, Muscat believes relief is just around the corner. 

“It is [good], but at the same time Carl is unavailable [through injury] and Terry is suspended – it’s been the tale of this season so far,” Muscat said on Wednesday. 

“It’s great to see ‘Donks’ [James Donachie] in amongst the group and Georg and Keisuke get minutes last week to build their fitness in the coming weeks.

“Again, it reinforces the immense amount of work that the playing group has done to win points.

“We’ve had a number of players unavailable near enough every week, so for the group to keep performing well enough to win points has been a tremendous effort.”

Melbourne Victory plays Wellington Phoenix this Friday night at Eden Park, Auckland. Kick-off is at 5:35pm AEDT.