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Jan 25, 2009

Muscat eyeing another Asian campaign

The lure of leading Melbourne Victory into another Asian Champions League campaign could help convince captain Kevin Muscat to play on next season.

Victory booked a spot in the 2010 Asian competition when they clinched the A-League minor premiership on the weekend.

Muscat, 35, has left a decision on his playing future until after the finals, but said the chance to improve on last year's unsuccessful venture against the continent's powerhouse clubs was a significant incentive.

"I certainly sent the message out last night - winning the league didn't hinder my cause anyway," Muscat said.

"Look, the finals now, we go into these games and after that I'll sit down and take stock with (coach Ernie Merrick).

"Believe it or not we've really not spoken about it.

"I'm content, I'm happy playing football, playing good football in a good environment, a good group, hopefully we can get the grand final here in Melbourne and we'll see what happens."

While the prime benefits of finishing the regular season on top were the Asian berth and a finals double chance, Muscat said it was an achievement worth celebrating in its own right.

"You go back four years ago, Ernie was pestering me to go back to Australia ... I came back to try to achieve something and days like yesterday make it all worthwhile," he said.

"We tend to underestimate what winning the league is, it certainly means a hell of a lot to us.

"But from hereon in we've got one more hurdle we need to jump ... we want a home grand final and we want to win it here in front of our fans."

The Victory have good reason for confidence heading into their two-legged major semi-final against Adelaide, the first leg of which is at Hindmarsh Stadium on February 7.

Melbourne have won all three games against the Reds this season and are the only visiting team to have won at Hindmarsh.

"We've probably played our best football against them, so we'll take confidence," Muscat said.

"But once you cross that white line it means nothing, if we don't turn up we get beat, simple as that.

"But it's been proven that we'll turn up in the big games."

Coach Merrick said the club's championship chances were boosted by having a deep squad that was free of injuries and suspensions.

"We are going into the finals campaign with a full list of players, we've won five out of the last six games and we're up for it," Merrick said.

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