Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat says Tuesday night's AFC Champions League game at home to Yokohama F. Marinos is a must-win clash if his team are to progress in the competition.
Victory have earned just one point from their first two matches in the 2014 tournament, giving up leads away to Guangzhou Evergrande and at home to Jeonbuk Motors to lose 4-2 and draw 2-2 respectively.
This week they play host to 2013 Emperor's Cup winners Yokohama, who have also have one point to show for their efforts so far in Group G.
They are flying in the J-League though, winning the first three matches of the new season to sit joint top of the table with Kashima Antlers.
When asked if claiming maximum reward at AAMI Park was vital to his team's chances of progressing beyond the group stage, Muscat was unequivocal.
“Yeah, we need to win tomorrow night,” he said.
“Probably still a little bit disappointed from last outing at home, that we didn't take all three points. We've got to win to give ourselves a chance of getting out of the group.”
Victory captain Mark Milligan, a former J-League player with JEF Chiba, is expecting a typically searching encounter against elite Asian opposition.
“Tomorrow night they're going to be very tactically sound, they're going to work extremely hard and it's going to be a great test for us,” Milligan said.
According to Muscat, left-back Adama Traore is the only player unavailable for selection due to injury, but the head coach also predicted several changes from the team that won 2-1 in the A-League against Perth Glory on Saturday night.
“Adama's come back from that knock he took in the first half (against Perth), so we're not going to give him a chance,” Muscat said.
“He's had to stick his hand up. Everyone else wants to play tomorrow night. We'll make a decision on who to play tomorrow night first and foremost to win a football game, but with the next four or five weeks in mind as well.”
When told about Muscat's description of the contest as a “must-win” game, Yokohama coach Yasuhiro Higuchi echoed the sentiments of his counterpart.
“For us also, it is the same,” he said.
“(A win is) very important to get through the group. We are playing with a very busy, together with the J-League. But we are hoping to go home with three points.”