Melbourne: Coach Kevin Muscat has labelled Melbourne Victory’s meeting with Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos on Tuesday a must-win contest which will decide the A-League side’s future in the AFC Champions League this season.
Melbourne have picked up just one point from their opening two games in Group G despite having led by two goals at half-time against Guangzhou Evergrande in China last month and by one goal at half-time at home against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors last week.
But while Muscat has revealed there will be more changes after the weekend’s trip to face Perth Glory in the A-League took further toll on the Melbourne squad, the former defender is eying a first win of the campaign at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
“We need a win tomorrow night. We are probably a bit disappointed from our last outing at home after we didn’t take all three points. Up to about the 75th minute mark we were leading and travelling OK, so it was a little disappointing, so tomorrow night suggests we have to win to give ourselves a chance to get out of the group,” said Muscat, who saw his second-place side beat Perth 2-1 on Saturday thanks to a last-minute strike from veteran forward Archie Thompson.
“If we don’t perform well there is not much chance of getting a result, so we have to get the performance right. If we do get the performance right, we’ll have a team out there who is good enough to win.”
Muscat, though, will be without midfielder Jesse Makarounas due to suspension.
Yokohama have also picked up just one point from their opening two games having recovered from their 3-0 opening day defeat by Jeonbuk in Korea to share a 1-1 draw at home to defending champions Guangzhou last week.
But Yasuhiro Higuchi’s side departed Japan after a 3-0 home win over Tokushima Vortis on Saturday maintained Yokohama’s 100% J.League record at the start of the season.
“This is a very important match if we want to qualify from the group. It will be very difficult for us as well as we are also playing a very busy schedule with the J.League, but we are definitely looking to go home with three points,” said Yokohama coach Higuchi.
“I saw Melbourne’s match against Jeonbuk and also some of their matches in the A-League and I can see they attack with a good structure and they also possess good attacking power and they are a good team.
“This is our fourth match in a short space of time so we will select the best team who can play aggressively tomorrow. Some of the players have not come to Australia due to injury, but the majority of the players who played on Saturday are here.”
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Riyadh: Al Shabab coach Amar Souayah described his team’s match against Esteghlal as a ‘cup final’ after the Saudi club overcame the Iranian side 2-1 with a pair of late goals at the King Fahd International Stadium.
Riyadh: Home team Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia come into Wednesday night’s Group A fixture against Iran’s Esteghlal at the top of the group and riding high from their King’s Cup quarter-final win over fellow AFC Champions league side Al Hilal last Friday.