Muscat praises Victory as war of words escalates

Kevin Muscat has hailed Melbourne Victory’s response to provocation from Sebastian Ryall and shrugged off Sydney FC’s latest barb in the war of words between the two clubs.

Ryall won a soft penalty at Guilherme Finkler’s expense and then tapped the Brazilian on the head in the wake of the contentious decision during an action-packed 3-3 draw between the teams last Saturday night.

The Sky Blues’ defender, who was condemned in the strongest terms by Victory’s Kosta Barbarouses earlier this week, was cleared of simulation by a Football Federation Australia Disciplinary Committee on Wednesday.

Ryall found not guilty of simulation

Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata has criticised Barbarouses for questioning the culture within the Sky Blues’ squad, throwing the accusation back at the Big V.

Muscat though, who would not be drawn on the decision to clear Ryall, praised his players for keeping their cool in the face of unseemly provocation.
“The reaction after receiving the penalty was there for everyone to see,” he said.

“The way we conducted ourselves in those circumstances were first class. I couldn’t be happier.

“Kosta’s got my full support and the rest of his team-mates’ full support. And probably every other player in the competition’s full support as well.”

Victory now face a disciplinary matter of their own, with Besart Berisha required to explain gestures made to the crowd at Allianz Stadium. The international marquee striker will though be available for the match away to Brisbane Roar on Friday night.

“Time will tell,” Muscat said when asked if the Albanian can expect to receive the same kind of leniency shown to Ryall.

“There’s no point worrying about it now. We’ve got until Monday to respond so we’ll get through the game tomorrow night and then we’ll take that up.”

Should he feature at Suncorp Stadium, it will be Archie Thompson’s 200th appearance for Victory.

The former Socceroos striker will become just the second player after the Central Coast Mariners’ John Hutchinson to reach the milestone with the same club.

Asked if he wanted to keep going next season, the 36-year-old was unequivocal.

“Of course,” he said. 

“I’m trying to take each week as it comes. I’ve just got to look after myself. I’ve just got to keep performing.”

His coach offered no guarantees of whether or not a new contract offer will be forthcoming, although Muscat does want to secure at least one more championship winner’s medal for the veteran forward.

“What’s to happen in the future, there’s still so much of the season to play,” he said.

“Leaving that changing room is the hardest thing to do as a professional. Hopefully we can add to the long list of his achievements as a footballer.”