Melbourne skipper Kevin Muscat has praised his side’s mental toughness after the Victory kept the pressure on Adelaide by defeating Wellington 2-0 on Friday night.
The Reds must now beat Central Coast by two goals or more to win the Hyundai A-League Premiership after Melbourne won five of their final six games.
If the Victory does finish top, they will have goals from Muscat and Archie Thompson to thank. Thompson’s goal, scored in the 90th-minute, could prove the difference between the top two teams at the end of the season, and it has put the pressure on the Reds to do the job on Sunday.
“We find ourselves comfortable, regardless of the result,” Muscat said. “We’ve put the pressure on Adelaide I don’t think they’ve scored too many away goals this season.”
It wasn’t a vintage performance from Melbourne on Friday night having taken the better part of the 90 minutes to dispose of the determined Phoenix. But Muscat believes the result shows just how much of a mental edge this team has over their rivals.
“We’re very mentally strong. We know if we can hold on long enough, we’ve got the firepower. That’s not only my opinion. You speak to the players in all the other teams and they’ve got the same opinion,” he said.
“If we can hold teams out … we’re going to have a period of time where we can apply pressure. Most times, we’ll produce a goal. That’s the threat we’ve got that every other team would like.”
But Muscat bristled at any comparison between this Melbourne team and the Victory side which won the Premiership and Championship two years ago.
“The championship winning team was too long ago for me to remember. It’s all about the present and it’s all about winning trophies. That’s what the 23 players across the room are focussed on. Tonight we’ve done enough to consolidate top two. Fingers crossed, come Sunday night, we win the league,” he said.
“I’m not drawing any comparisons to any other team. There’s probably ten odd players who weren’t around for that last team.”
And Muscat even went as far as saying this team was more mentally ready for the challenge of the finals that the Victory side of 06/07. He believes the fact that the team has had to battle so hard to achieve its top two finish, gives it a real edge.
“There are comparisons that can be made. It means nothing. You can draw comparisons all you like. I would say this team is more mentally tough. We’ve endured a lot this season. We are disappointed that we haven’t wrapped this up already. We put ourselves in a position where we had to get a result tonight to apply pressure and we’ve done that.”