Melbourne Victory attacker Kosta Barbarouses has scoffed at suggestions Kevin Muscat’s inexperience as a coach will give Sydney FC the edge in Sunday’s Hyundai A-League grand final.
Muscat is in his first full season as Victory boss and has done a superb job, guiding the club to the Premiers Plate and a season decider in front of their home fans.
On Monday night, to underline these growing credentials, the former Socceroo was awarded A-League Coach of the Year gong by his fellow coaches.
But when it comes to grand final coaching experience, Sky Blues boss Graham Arnold is well out in front.
Arnold is a veteran in the coaching ranks and will take charge of his third Hyundai A-League grand final in four years.
He has also been to a World Cup with the Socceroos, working under legendary boss Guus Hiddink.
But Barbarouses denies that experience gives the Sky Blues the edge, adamant his boss will have Victory primed to produce their best at AAMI Park on Sunday.
“As a player he’s [Muscat] won a couple [of championships] and he was like a coach on the pitch as well back then,” Barbarouses told www.a-league.com.au.
“Muscy has been great…he doesn’t change too much with this being a [grand] final.
“He told us ‘it’s not going to be a normal week being the grand final obviously but we have to keep it as normal as possible’.
“I think we dealt with it pretty well last week [for the derby] and this week will be the same.
“No one is going to get overawed with it and a lot of that is down to Muscy and how relaxed he is.”
Barbarouses is also pretty calm moving into the season’s showpiece match, having been there and done it before with Brisbane Roar.
The Kiwi international was part of Ange Postecoglou’s all-conquering side which won a dramatic decider over Central Coast Mariners on penalties in 2011.
And he believes this Victory side is better equipped than what that Roar side was to emerge winners on Sunday.
“We’ve got more experience in this team which counts for a lot,” the 25-year-old said.
“When I was in Brisbane we had a lot of young players and inexperienced players but we played with a lot of quality as well which got us through.
“Here our quality is there but we have a lot more experience as well. That’s a pretty important thing for me.”
Nothing has separated the two sides this season, with three draws from their three clashes, including two 3-3 draws.
Asked what could be the difference on Sunday, Barbarouses added: “We’ve had some very tough match-ups where nothing has really separated us.
“It’s going to be a very interesting game but hopefully we can put our authority on the game early and go from there.
“We both possess the best defences in the league as well [as attack] so you have to take that into account.
“There’s quality all over the park in both teams so it will probably come down to who starts better and copes with the whole occasion.”