Victory switch focus to Big Blue

Kevin Muscat wouldn't allow himself to dwell on the achievement on beating one World Cup winner on Tuesday night, as he prepares to take on a team containing another three days later.

The Melbourne Victory boss was in a jubilant mood after watching his team register a 2-0 win over AFC Champions League holders Guangzhou Evergrande. The result sent shock waves through the competition and has placed the Chinese Super League club's progression to the knockout stages in doubt.

And while Victory, level on seven points with the three other teams in Group G, now have every chance of advancing themselves, Muscat's attention has already turned to Friday's A-League elimination final against the Sydney FC of Alessandro Del Piero.

Evergrande coach Marcello Lippi led Del Piero and Italy to glory at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but he lost out to rookie Muscat at Etihad Stadium.

Later this week it will be another former Juventus man and his Sky Blues team-mates in Victory's firing line.

"It's a game of football," Muscat said when asked about how it felt to get the better of the ex-Azzurri boss.

"If I'm honest I'm already thinking about Friday."

Having seen his squad stretched thin by three successive away matches against Yokohama F Marinos, the Newcastle Jets and Wellington Phoenix, Muscat claimed the buzz around the club has had a transformative effect on the condition of his players.

"All of a sudden there's no-one telling me they're fatigued or sore or tired or jetlagged," he said.

"Everyone wants to play."

One man who may not be involved against Frank Farina's team is centre-back Adrian Leijer, who limped off in the first half with a foot problem.

When asked he feared the defender, spotted later on crutches, had suffered a break, the Victory coach said: "I'm hoping not."

"But when Ado gets injured, he gets injured properly," Muscat added with a rueful smile, referring to series of facial fractures the former captain suffered earlier this season, initially dismissed by his coach as a minor knock.

Whether or not Leijer recovers in time to face Sydney, Victory will at least get Archie Thompson back after the veteran missed the Evergrande match due to a bereavement.

He is set to rejoin a squad full of positive energy. James Troisi's injury time goal to put the result beyond doubt sparked wild celebrations among the players and staff on Tuesday, and Muscat understands the psychological value of such a euphoric moment.

"It will help, there's no doubt," he said.

"I couldn't be happier with the position we're in. We've got three full days to prepare for Sydney. If you walk through that changing room you'll see a group of players jumping out of their skin to be in that team for Friday night.

"It's a very important game for the club and I dare say we're looking for a repeat performance."

Notching two victories against two World Cup winners in the space of four days? Now that would really be something for the first-season coach to mark down on his growing CV.

1 comment


Holger would be saying "We don't want the boys getting carried away and thinking they are stars".
Holger and Haan Berger used to say "We have to have Realistic Expectations (i.e. be prepared and be happy to lose)." It will take 10 years to see some changes. Ange says give him a 2 day camp with kids and he'll find a team to beat Holland.

I said and still say Realistic Expectations are the Only factor holding back Australian Football !

Muscat and Ange are using the emotions to their advantage and go by the motto "Let them believe they are stars and can beat the best in the world and they will - Believe and Achieve".

It is so important to be positive, let people fall in love with an idea or goal, then they will move heaven and hell to achieve their goal when they believe they can.

When players believe they can play for the Socceroos and win a World Cup, they will train like there's no tomorrow with a spark in their eyes and not being able to sleep at night cause they are so excited. They will not feel pain, they will be obsessed thinking about it night and day and they will train and eventually win the World Cup when you allow them to believe they can. Surround yourself and the team with positive people too.

That's why Ange is creating that. That is transferred to Kevin Muscat. That belief of Ange and Poppa and Arnold has been transferred to the whole A-League who now believe they are better than the best in Asia despite the Asian teams having 10 times or whatever bigger budgets.
That's why Australia will beat Spain and why Ange wants the public to "Get Excited, I want the public to Get Excited". Ange knows that the players need surrounding players who all believe that Australia is going to win the WC and the public too, cause the public's confidence effects the players when they talk to them.
Hence a lot of youngsters coming through. All due to Ange mainly. Pain, Nabbout, Ben Halloran got his chance in Roar under Ange and is now 21 and scoring for FSV Frankfurt playing and doing what Robbie Kruse (also Ange) was doing at Frankfurt at 23, but Halloran is 2.5 years younger than what Kruse was at the time !
Imagine the Socceroos how powerful we'll be soon with Kruse returning and Halloran getting better everyday along with many other young stars ? Give the youngsters a chance and they will shine.
Halloran and Kruse didn't get chances with previous Euro coaches, now they are.

Also when a whole team believes together, they play together, raise together, push up on the field and
tackle the opposition together leading to the opposition losing the ball and not getting it back.

Go Ange ! Australia's Next Generation Expert ! Let's win this World Cup then the Asian Cup after !