Before Melbourne Victory flew to Adelaide for the FFA Cup Round of 16, Kevin Muscat talked with media about a number of topics.
Q: Big game coming up against A-League opposition, how do you feel about that?
Muscat: It is what it is. There’s positives, you get to have a look at Adelaide. There’s been a lot of changes there, a new coach and adding to the squad over the course of the last four or five weeks.
It’s a good opportunity for us. Good games at this time of year are difficult to come by. We’ll go across there, and as I said prior to our last Cup game, we want to be in the hat come the draw for the next round. We’re looking forward to it.
Q: What was your reaction when you saw the draw? Does it make a difference at all that you drew an A-League team?
Muscat: Going into the draw, the first thing you want if you had a preference is a home tie. There was one all A-League encounter and we happened to be involved in it. There’s no point worrying about it, we prepared immediately after the draw to play against Adelaide.
Since their last game against Newcastle, Diawara’s got some more minutes under his belt, Gulum’s come into the side and had more game time, they’ve made another signing. They’ll have a stronger side than they had against Newcastle and we go to the game looking forward to it.
Q: Even besides that Brisbane game, you must have been feeling pretty good form wise with the goals flowing in?
Muscat: We’ve done exceptionally well in what I might say is ridiculous circumstances (against Brisbane), two professional teams on that surface and environment we were in was ridiculous and laughable.
We got through it and played very, very well. Our mindset and attitude was a reflection of our application on the night and we got what we deserved. But I’m not going to start discussing form at this time of year.
We’ve worked the players pretty hard since that game (against Brisbane). It’s going to be a tough game across to Adelaide, really looking forward to performing off a good base that we started with in Brisbane.
Q: Just on you guys, good timing – you must have a hand in the scheduling losing a couple of guys next week?
Muscat: We’ve been disadvantaged in the past because of international breaks, and I don’t think it’s an advantage for us, all it means is we get to use the players we’ve got available.
It’s good for Millsy (Mark Milligan) and good for Jimmy (James Troisi) as well that they get another opportunity to get a game under their belt. Their clear focus at this point in time is performing well tomorrow night and then we’ll worry about international breaks after that.
Q: What sort of nick have they (Milligan and Troisi) come back in? A lot of boys have come back into pre-season off a really short turnaround.
Muscat: Their break was very, very similar to what a European break traditionally is, having gone to the Confederations Cup and then they basically had four weeks off. They’ve come in in very good condition, hence why they played in that game in Brisbane after 10 days in training.
Q: A new visa signing, how long was that in the mix?
Muscat: Matias’ visa application is in process, so he’s not available. Naturally, some things take longer than others but it was something we’d been speaking about and in discussions for a period of time. We’re pleased that it’s come off.
Q: What excites you most about him?
Muscat: We’ve really got some competition for places and it gives us a great flexibility in the middle of the park. Taking into consideration, as we must, international breaks and later on in the season with mid-week games and Champions League, it’s an area that in the past we wanted to strengthen a little bit more than previous seasons.
Q: Any other players unavailable?
Muscat: Everyone else in the squad is available at this point of time.
Q: Aside from the actual result tomorrow, is there anything else you’re looking for from the performance?
Muscat: Without doubt. Like I suggested earlier, our attitude was reflected in our application in Brisbane. That was the conversation and the review, it gave us a real good platform to work off.
The competition is great, because it gives the group something meaningful to look forward to, and off that base we want to improve in certain areas. There was one or two things, particularly in the first half in Brisbane, where I thought we had opportunities to put balls into goal-scoring opportunities and we didn’t and we turned back out and started again.
In the second half there was a great improvement, we started the second half really well and got into their box which forced them into errors and subsequently we got a couple of penalties.
Our shape was pretty good for this time of year and we were very disciplined on the night within that.
There’s a number of players who are still getting used to that. Rhys Williams’ game has had to change enormously in terms of what we’re asking him to do. He’s an intelligent player, but even in that game we want to see a progression from him in that perspective.
There were one or two others, Kosta getting back into the swing of things was a little bit easier for him, his understanding with Bes from an attacking perspective but even when we didn’t have the ball.
I think it was a really good base for us to work off.
Q: In general, the FFA Cup – how big of a priority is it for you this year?
Muscat: One thing’s for sure, there’s a trophy up for grabs. As soon as any silverware is available, it’s something that we take seriously, it’s part of the DNA of the football club.
On the flip side of things, in terms of arranging games and getting good games on good surfaces, it’s not easy to do at this time of year. It gives us another opportunity to get one of those, and then subsequently it’s an opportunity to get into the last eight of a competition.