Football 1 year ago

Acid test looms for Victory in Asia

  • Acid test looms for Victory in Asia

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 17: Melbourne players pose for photos during the AFC Champions League match between the Melbourne Victory and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors at AAMI Park on May 17, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)

It's the end of an era for Melbourne Victory on Tuesday night but coach Kevin Muscat has urged his players not to make it the end of their road in Asia.

In Jeonju, South Korea, Victory play the second leg of their Asian Champions League round-of-16 tie with continental powerhouse Jeonbuk Motors.

After a 1-1 draw in Melbourne last week, Victory need a win or a high-scoring draw to progress to the last eight. Another 1-1 would produce extra time or penalties.

Muscat hopes the high-profile departure of championship winners Archie Thompson, Matthieu Delpierre and Kosta Barbarouses engenders the right spirit among his players.

All three leave the club at the end of the month at the expiration of their contracts.

They all leave as club legends, none more so than Thompson who has three A-League winners medals in his pool room after 11 years in Melbourne.

Muscat urged them to end their time in navy with one more mark of distinction; as continental trail-blazers for the club.

"I'd like to think that the players that are going to leave this club (will do so) with some unbelievable fond memories," he said.

"Individual honours are forgotten about very quickly. Being a part of a group is the first thing you remember in every success.

"There's no doubt in my mind that's going through their minds at the moment.

"I've not sensed anything from anyone that says they're happy with what we've achieved. This would be a massive achievement for the group and I'm sure the players understand that."

Despite the occasion, Thompson could be benched in Jeonju.

The 37-year-old enjoyed an emotional send-off at AAMI Park last Tuesday but was substituted and it could be that the veteran makes way as Muscat seeks more cut-through in the forward line.

"I'm still tossing up one or two things," Muscat said of his line-up.

"After watching and reviewing the game, there are some areas we were aware of but didn't capitalise on enough.

"You'd expect the same from them. In terms of us you'll have to wait and see."

The K-League club is taking the tie so seriously that they rested 10 players from their weekend league match.

At 1-1, the tie is finely balanced.

While Victory are yet to taste success on an Asian away-day, they have found goals on each of their travels this campaign.

Striker Besart Berisha said confidence was flowing through the team after a "great job" in their first leg.

"We have to be careful as every chance they have they'll use it. They are very ruthless," he said.

"We have to score and I believe we will. We have a strong team and we are very motivated for this game."

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