Soccer: Muscat wants win in Melbourne so he can celebrate 100 games

By Terry Maddaford

Muscat (left) wants win against Victory tonight to celebrate 100 games. Photo / Getty Images
Muscat (left) wants win against Victory tonight to celebrate 100 games. Photo / Getty Images

Manny Muscat will be keen for a double celebration when he returns home with the Wellington Phoenix to play the Victory in the last of the A-League's fifth-round matches at Melbourne tonight.

Most importantly for the sometime Maltese international will be a win over one of the league's glamour clubs as the Phoenix again attempt to break their hoodoo of having never won in the Victorian capital.

With the points in the bag, Muscat would then happily celebrate his 100th game for the club.

"To play 100 games for one club is very special and hopefully I can continue playing for the Phoenix for a long time," said Muscat. "That the game is being played in my native Melbourne makes it even more special, and I hope we can win and celebrate my 100 games with the family because the most important thing is getting three points.

"We've not done well in Melbourne in the past and I hope to turn that around."

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert is even more keen to break his duck in Melbourne.

"Our record here [in Melbourne] isn't great, but the way we have been playing this season there is no reason why we can't change that," said Herbert. "We have approached every game positively and this one will be no different.

"That approach put us in a good position in Adelaide before we gave up a goal through poor defending, and then a few other things went against us.

"We will go with the same squad - apart from Ben Sigmund who is suspended - which is a good thing."

Herbert's mood would not have improved any when people in high places in the refereeing ranks across the Tasman admitted late last week that Sigmund should never have been sent off for the incident which led to his suspension. It appears Herbert will go with a straight swap again, bringing in Michael Boxall for Sigmund - as he did when Sigmund was on All Whites duty.

The home side will be at full strength with an unchanged line-up from the team who went down 2-1 away to the Newcastle Jets a week ago as the Victory chase a win to drag themselves above their crosstown rivals Melbourne Heart and off the bottom of the ladder.

The match will again be special for the former Wellington Phoenix playmaker Marco Rojas who has netted twice for the Victory this season.

Rojas, 20, is thriving under new coach Ange Postecoglou but like his teammates is frustrated that they have won only one of their four games and have conceded 10 which, until Sydney FC leaked seven - for a season total of 13 - was the worst defensive record in the league.

The pressure will be on the Phoenix in the first of three away games in their next four outings - and with their only home game against rampant Central Coast Mariners - to put the robbery in Adelaide behind them and return to the formula that earned them points in their first three games of the season.


Victory v Phoenix

*Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix

*Etihad Stadium

*Tonight 9.30pm (live SS3)

*Referee: Shaun Evans

- NZ Herald

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