Victory out to avoid FFA Cupset
Photo Source: AAP
Melbourne Victory head to Bentleigh Greens for an FFA Cup quarter-final without Michael Essien but Kevin Muscat is confident his squad has enough firepower to see off the state league premiers and challenge for higher honours.
Ghanaian midfielder Essien, a two-time English Premier League winner with Chelsea, turned down the chance to become Victory's marquee guest player last week.
Coach Muscat said he was disappointed the move didn't come to fruition but wasn't scrambling to find a last-gasp signing.
"It would have been a bonus," he said.
"We've done everything in our powers (to sign Essien) ... it's well past us now and we moved on.
"We're very pleased with the squad we've assembled and looking forward we're hopeful that it's going to be enough for us to challenge and win trophies this season."
The move means Victory will start the season without their full complement of five foreigners for the first time in three years.
Muscat said his door wasn't closed to a late arrival but it wasn't a priority given what he's seen on the training track.
Attackers James Troisi and Marco Rojas, in their second stints with the club, have impressed in non-competitive outings to date and should start against John Anastasiadis' side in Tuesday night's Cup date.
Muscat said he'd seen a marked lift in intensity in training sessions on Gosch's Paddock as the quarter-final and the A-League opener, against Brisbane on October 7, drew near.
"It's been tense," he said.
"The playing group has put almost in 12 weeks of work and they sense the games about to start and they want to be included.
"Our attitude has to be right. If you give away some ground in terms of your attitude, your opponent you're in danger of falling on your face."
Bentleigh's NPL rivals Green Gully have the chance to make it three Victorian sides in the last four when they take on Canberra Olympic in Tuesday night's other semi-final.
Olympic are the first ACT-based side to make it through to the quarter-finals but Green Gully will be favoured to join Melbourne City and Sydney FC in the semi-finals when they meet at Deakin Stadium.
Should Bentleigh fail to knock out the FFA Cup holders on Tuesday night, either Green Gully or Olympic will be assured of hosting a semi-final to be hosted on 18 and 26 October.