Melbourne Victory boss Kevin Muscat has warned his side against underestimating a weakened Gamba Osaka in Tuesday night’s crucial AFC Champions League clash on Tuesday night.
Victory will face an under-strength Gamba outfit – they have left 10 first-choice players home in Japan – as the Hyundai A-League club look to reach the last 16 of the competition for the first time.
It’s a huge boost for Victory, who know they only need to win or match Suwon Bluewings’, to advance to the knockout stages.
Muscat pointed to his own club’s result against Brisbane Roar in the final round of the A-League – when he rested a host of first-team stars – as to what fringe starting XI players can do.
"If your attitude's not right it doesn't matter what the opposition is," Muscat told reporters on Monday.
"We've put ourselves in a very good position.
"We want to be rewarded. Anything less than [progression to last 16] would be letting ourselves down. It'd be deflating."
Victory have extra motivation to advance to the next stage, with a host of stars to depart the club at the end of the month.
Veteran striker Archie Thompson, French defender Matthieu Delpierre and winger Kosta Barbarouses will leave the club in a few weeks’ time.
"As hard as it is, you've got to remove all emotion," Muscat said.
"You start thinking of yourself and it’s possible to be overwhelmed...we won't be doing that.
"The farewells and all the emotional stuff can come later.
"We've got an opportunity to do something and create history here. He [Thompson] could be adding to the list of achievements that he's had,” Muscat added of Thompson, confirming the 37-year-old will start at AAMI Park.