Victory’s ACL fate rests on Gamba clash


Melbourne Victory’s AFC Champions League fate is in its own hands on Tuesday night against Gamba Osaka, and head coach Kevin Muscat wants his players to grab the opportunity with both hands.

Victory is on the verge of qualifying for the Round of 16, with a win against Gamba securing its passage through the group stage for the first time.

It has been a successful 2016 ACL campaign to date for Victory, which has lost just one of its five matches against some of Asia’s most accomplished clubs.

“When the draw comes out, you realise how difficult it is, juggling competitions and personnel and those sorts of things,” Muscat said on Monday.

“You get to the end of it now and you want to be rewarded for it in some capacity.

“We’ve got an opportunity to do that tomorrow night. Anything less than that and we’ll be letting ourselves down.

“But there are no gimmies, we understand that.

“We’re going to have to be good on the night to get the desired result.”

Gamba, resigned to fourth place in Group G regardless of Tuesday night’s result, has left some of its stars in Japan to focus on its J-League campaign.

Still, Victory will be wary of an experienced squad of players that is motivated to find form and continue its unbeaten record against Victory.

“From understanding who’s here, they’ve got a very good team,” Muscat said.

“They’re very technically gifted. Out of all the Asian teams, they try to retain and they’re less direct, so from that perspective it poses a different problem for us.

“If your attitude’s not right, it’s irrelevant who’s playing for the opposition.

“The concentration has been more about what’s required from us to perform well.

“It’s a massive game for us. We’ve put ourselves in a very good position to progress, so we look forward to performing very well.

“We’ve worked hard and we look forward to coming out of the blocks tomorrow night with a real intent and a real purpose.

“Our actions must reflect that we’re a group wanting to get out of the group stage and continue our season.”

Tickets for Victory’s game against Gamba on Tuesday night are available by clicking here.