Shots fired as Victory prepare for Sky Blues record
MELBOUNRE Victory boss Kevin Muscat has fanned the flames ahead of tonight's trip to Sydney FC by refusing to form a guard of honour for the record-breaking Sky Blues.
Ever the competitor, Muscat exhibited no room for sentiment in his final pre-game press conference for the Sydney FC or old foe Graham Arnold before the latter joins the Socceroos in July.
While it could be the final A-League showdown between the ex-Socceroos teammates, who are one-all in grand final encounters, Muscat was licking his lips at the prospect of one last finals, perhaps even title decider.
While Newcastle Jets formed a guard of honour for FC last season, defiant Muscat declared that Victory would not be extending any well-wishes to the Sky Blues for their latest minor premiership triumph.
"There's nothing to fulfill at the moment. There hasn't been any request, haven't heard anything about it,'' Muscat said.
"It's a little bit late in the piece, we're preparing for a football game and it's irrelevant really.
"In fact we have spoke to Sydney FC this week because they asked us about a hotel in Shanghai (for their Champions League trip) so there has been communications."
Asked whether he'd witnessed guards of honour in his career which included stints in England and Scotland, Muscat said: "I've never really paid any attention (to guards of honour)."
Victory have their eye on third spot, which Melbourne City (two points ahead) holds heading into the final round, with a Champions League berth and likelihood of avoiding Sydney until the grand final the incentives.
But Muscat wasn't too focused on that or personal rivalries.
"I don't get excited by that sort of stuff (potential last clash with Arnold). It is what it is, if it's not Arnie, it's someone else - it would be nice to get one over him,'' he said.
"It's a good chance for us to get in the right frame of mind (for finals). We're totally focused on the performance.
"We feel we're getting stronger as a team, the last 6-7 weeks have been evidence of that and we'll go there with that in mind.
"We play first so we've got an opportunity to put ourselves in that position but it's not something we've spoken about or motivated for - it's just the performance.
"Games against Sydney have been fierce and really competitive and aggressive and we're looking forward to that. We'll go across with that attitude and mindset."
While Rhys Williams and Kosta Barbarouses return for Victory, teenage winger Christian Theoharous was in doubt due to illness.