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22 Feb 2018 16:02
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Soccer

    Muscat wants salt in Aloisi's AL wounds

    Fifth-placed Melbourne Victory meet Brisbane Roar, in seventh, at AAMI Park in a match to help decide the shape of the A-League finals.

    Could the A-League's three most successful clubs all have new managers at the end of the season?

    Sydney FC's Graham Arnold is a lay-down misere to move to the Socceroos coaching role after the World Cup.

    The other two meet on Friday night when Kevin Muscat's Melbourne Victory host Brisbane Roar, coached by John Aloisi, at AAMI Park.

    Muscat is uncontracted at season's end, with Victory sitting uncomfortably in fifth - 11 points off a top-two position.

    Aloisi is under the cosh after a run of seven losses in 10 games, including an Asian Champions League humiliation to Ceres Negros of Philippines.

    Both have had their share of unavailabilities and explanations for their underwhelming seasons to date.

    But as Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro declared for his club last week - a view no doubt shared in Brisbane - the bottom line is that it is "not good enough and not acceptable".

    Perhaps that's why Muscat and Aloisi - mates from their time in the Socceroos together - have confided in each other through their difficult campaigns.

    "I've been friends with JA for a long time," Muscat said on Thursday.

    "It's not my place to speak about what he's going through albeit we've had some conversations.

    "We've had a difficult seasons for a number of reasons. He's working ever so hard.

    "The biggest compliment I can pay him is ... to go out there tomorrow and beat him and give him some more headaches."

    Unlike Muscat, Aloisi is contracted beyond the finals but is under serious pressure to improve his side's on-field fortunes.

    Victory are in the curious position of having their fate seemingly pre-determined with eight rounds to go.

    Seven points ahead of seven-placed Brisbane and a double-point buffer off Newcastle in second, it seems Victory are destined to play in week one of the finals without a surprising turn of events.

    Muscat said he wouldn't be feeling sorry for himself with still plenty to play for.

    "There's no point worrying about where we think we should be. The reality is we are where we are," he said.

    "At the end of the year we'll review and put into perspective what's been a very unique campaign for us."

    Against Brisbane, Muscat is grateful to have goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas available on Friday after he suffered a sickening head clash and concussion in last weekend's 2-0 loss in Newcastle.

    "It's very pleasing. Not so much that he's available to play but that he's healthy," Muscat said.

    "He was out for a moment there ... he's passed all the required tests."

    Another Thomas - defender Deng - will miss the round 20 opener due to adductor tightness.

    Victory full-back Jason Geria returns after suspension.

    Opposing full-back Corey Brown - heavily rumoured to be joining Victory next season - will miss the trip for the same reason, though Jade North is available.

    STATS THAT MATTER * John Aloisi hasn't coached his side to a win at AAMI Park since Feburary 2013, a run that includes eight games as Melbourne Heart boss.

    * Victory have conceded the most fouls and offsides in the league this term.

    * Besart Berisha has never failed to score in two straight matches against his former club, but did miss out in their last meeting, Victory's 2-1 away win in December.


    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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