Victory turn focus to Asia

Stand-in skipper Adrian Leijer says the only positive out of Melbourne Victory's heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Gold Coast United is that the side can now turn all their attention towards their forthcoming Asian Champions League campaign, which starts next Tuesday in Japan.

Stand-in skipper Adrian Leijer says the only positive out of Melbourne Victory's heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Gold Coast United is that the side can now turn all their attention towards their forthcoming Asian Champions League campaign, which starts next Tuesday in Japan.

The Victory will feel hard done by after Dino Djulbic's last-gasp header gave United their first ever finals win, but they only have themselves to blame after spurning a host of chances - particularly in a first half that the visitors largely controlled.

But now having been knocked out of the race for the A-League championship, the club can focus all their energy on their Asian adventure.

They will be boosted by the presence of new signings Isaka Cernak and Tando Velaphi and the return of captain Kevin Muscat for his swansong, with his eight-week ban for that now-infamous tackle on Melbourne Heart's Adrian Zahra not extending to the ACL.

"If we really want to finish our season on a high that's something we can really focus on. There's a couple of new players coming in and the only positive out of this is that we can focus on that and in the past we've never had that luxury," Leijer said.

Coach Ernie Merrick said it was the perfect opportunity for his side to redeem themselves after an ultimately unsuccessful season.

"Overall you can't say it was a successful year but to get in the finals after being in the grand final in the previous year, that's probably better than any other team that's made it to one," Merrick said.

"At least we get a free run at the Asian Champions League now, with our skipper back."

The mercury reached as high as 38 degrees on the Gold Coast on Sunday, and Merrick said the extreme conditions were one of the chief reasons why his side fell away after a promising start.

But the Victory boss said that they should have made the most of their several chances to go ahead before Djulbic delivered that heartbreaking injury-time sucker punch.

"I thought our players worked extremely hard but they struggled to cope with the heat. We lost Matthew Kemp again, Surat Sukha lasted 20 minutes, Archie Thompson just can't get his fitness up… young Diogo Ferreira was totally exhausted, Marvin Angulo ran out of legs and they got the better of midfield," he said.

"But I always thought that if we got the ball forward with Archie, Danny Allsopp and Robbie Kruse, we'd create something. Sure enough we did, but we couldn't finish off."

"I thought the best chance of the game was Danny right through just outside the six yard box but he skied it over the bar, and they went back and scored from a corner kick."

"But overall I thought our boys really battled and I thought we were a bit unlucky not to get something out of that."

Merrick had some harsh words for his opposite number, Miron Bleiberg, and the way his side played the game after the Gold Coast coach went on the attack of the Victory's physical style of play in the wake of their last meeting.

"I've really got very little to say about Miron's comments. He's a very happy person today, isn't that surprising? He must have been happy with the tackling as well," Merrick smirked.

"There were a couple of off-the-ball incidents that were quite interesting but it's not a thing that we (worry about). We just go out and play the game."