Melbourne Victory play their fourth game in 12 days in the Asian Champions League on Tuesday night with coach Kevin Muscat foreshadowing more changes.
Melbourne Victory’s weary legs will saddle up for their fourth game in 12 days on Tuesday night in a must-win Asian Champions League (ACL) clash with Yokohama F Marinos.
Having secured just one point from two games so far suggests anything less than a win will end the Victory’s qualification chances for the ACL group stage.
But while coach Kevin Muscat would love the week to focus on this match against the J-League giants – three days after their win in Perth – they’ll face another tight turn-around to an A-League blockbuster in Brisbane on Saturday night.
“We’ve got to make decisions based on how (player’s) bodies are, their load in previous weeks, how much game-time they’ve had,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot to play for in the next two months so there won’t be any risks taken with anybody.
“At the same time you’re selecting the best possible team to get the result.”
Captain Mark Milligan, who spent time with JEF United in Japan, said he wouldn’t be putting up his hand to sit this one out despite Muscat saying his team had pulled up sore.
Adama Traore (knee) and Adrian Leijer (facial fractures) are the only players confirmed to miss the Yokohama match, with Muscat likely to name youngsters again on his team-sheet.
Victory have certainly produced good football through this challenging period – scoring nine goals in their last four games including consecutive A-League wins – but it begs the question whether Football Federation Australia could do more to help Australian teams compete in the ACL.
Already behind the eight-ball with a salary cap and team size restrictions, Muscat said playing away games in Perth and Brisbane didn’t help.
“It’s too much for me to think about but… if that can be looked at at the start of the year it would give everyone a helping hand.”
“But it’s the draw we’ve been given and we’ll get on with it.”
Yokohama are in a similar position to Victory in the ACL group, with just a draw to Guangzhou Evergrande in their opening two games, though they sit atop the Japanese league with wins from their first three games.
It’s believed their star midfielder and captain Shunsuke Nakamura has not travelled to Melbourne, for what coach Yasuhiro Higuchi called a very difficult must-win game.