Victory start five-match home stretch
It's home sweet home for Melbourne Victory this month as they play five straight at their AAMI Park base.
Beginning with the A-League's 1000th game on Sunday against Newcastle Jets, Victory can set themselves up for a title tilt with home matches against Perth Glory, Melbourne Heart, Western Sydney and Brisbane Roar.
Victory's record at Melbourne's second football stadium is formidable: in the past three years they have been kept goalless just once and lost only five A-League matches.
While Kevin Muscat will certainly send his attack-oriented side out to win every game, he's not creating targets for his team for the month ahead.
"You can fall into the trap of trying to set some goals ... we're looking for maximum points and then take it from there," he said.
"Teams come across here and certainly know what to expect and we aim not to disappoint."
Victory's streak of AAMI Park matches could come at a cost, with Victory enduring a challenging run-in to the finals.
Already signed up for six interstate trips and two visits to Wellington, should Victory qualify for the Asian Champions League they'll make three trips north of the equator.
Victory are set to take on an Indian or Thai side to qualify for the tournament on February 15, a match most likely to be played at Geelong.
The A-League milestone match on Sunday gave Muscat pause for reflection on the league's growth.
"I've been here from day one and it's been refreshing to see where our code of football has come over a short period of time," he said.
Top of the changes is the quality of football, achieved through higher local standards and the players attracted to play in the league.
"Even the playing surfaces ... all of those things haven't had a choice but to improve because the level of football demands those sort of things."