Muscat could quit after Hiroshima clash

Coach Kevin Muscat is reported to ready to leave Melbourne Victory after their final match of the season next week.

Muscat will lead last season's A-League Champions against Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Wednesday in the club's final Asian Champions League match.

But the man who has been captain, assistant coach and head coach of the club is widely expected to part company with Victory after that game.

Muscat has been associated with Victory for 15 years but is understood to want some time clear of the game to reload for the next phase of his career.

The coach, who has one year left on his contract, led the team to Grand Final success last season against Newcastle Jets.

They finished third in the league this season and beat Wellington Phoenix to reach the semi-finals, but they were then crushed 6-1 by Big Blue rivals Sydney FC last weekend.

Victory have done poorly in the Asian Champions League, picking up just one point from their five games so far in Group F.

Their last two away games in the ACL have produced 4-0 defeats, against Guangzhou Evergrande and Daegu FC.

Wednesday's match will be against a Hiroshima side who have already secured their place in the knockout phase with four wins from five matches.

It will be the last match for captain Carl Valeri, who is retiring.

Muscat was the first player signed for Victory by inaugural coach Ernie Merrick ahead of the 2005-06 season, and captained the club to Grand Final victories in 2007 and 2009.

He has been in charge of the club for more 200 games since taking the job in October 2013.

Meanwhile, this season's minor premiers Perth Glory are 7/10 to win the A-League Grand Final.

The Glory are 11/8 to win in 90 minutes, with Sydney FC 2/1 and the draw 12/5.

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Santalab set for last ‘great battle’

Brendon Santalab is glad that the final game of his career will come against old rivals Sydney FC in the A-League Grand Final.

Though the Perth Glory veteran did have a two-year stint with the Sky Blues that ended a decade ago, it's what he's done against Sydney FC since his return to the competition in 2013 that has been perhaps more memorable.

The 36-year-old will be hanging up his boots after Sunday's A-League decider at Optus Stadium, and Steve Corica's team are well aware of his potential to deny them the championship.

Santalab scored two winning goals in derbies against them during his time with Western Sydney Wanderers, whom he helped to win the 2014 Asian Champions League final.

Having followed coach Tony Popovic from Wanderers to Perth this season, he's been their nemesis again as he scored in a 3-1 win for the Glory in January.

"I've had some great battles with Sydney, and there's one last battle to go," he said. "There's some great memories from those games; the derbies were amazing, when I played at the Wanderers.

"But this season I scored against Sydney at home as well and we really dominated that game. If we can play like we did in that game, where we held a lot of the possession and pressed up high, we're going to be in a good position.

"We go into the game confident after a great season, and it's all about preparation and focus now. I'm predicting another crazy, epic match over in Perth."

Santalab, who was twice Western Sydney's leading scorer in a season, is likely to have a place on the bench in the Grand Final.

Perth Glory are 7/10 to win the Grand Final.

The Glory are 11/8 to win in 90 minutes, with Sydney FC 2/1 and the draw 12/5.

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Kilkenny: Glory not underdogs

Midfielder Neil Kilkenny says Perth Glory have no concerns that Sydney FC will have any psychological edge over them going into Sunday's Grand Final.

Two of the Glory's three defeats during the regular season came at the hands of Steve Corica's team.

They included the round 9 clash in Perth when the Sky Blues won 2-1 to make sure Perth couldn't go into Christmas with an unbeaten record.

Adam le Fondre, who finished second in the Golden Boot standings with 16 goals during the regular season, netted in that match and it was his goal that separated the teams at Jubilee Stadium in the penultimate round.

Kilkenny admits Perth have to be wary of Sydney FC, especially after they thrashed defending champions Melbourne Victory 6-1 in their semi-final at the weekend.

But he doesn't see any reason for the Glory to feel they are the underdogs ahead of the Optus Stadium clash.

Perth won the Premiers' Plate with two rounds to spare, meaning when they played Sydney FC the last time there was nothing riding on the match as far as they were concerned. Coach Tony Popovic rested a number of players for the trip.

Despite losing two of their last five games of the season, Perth finished with the best defensive and offensive record in the league.

Kilkenny said: "A Grand Final is a one-off game, and it's a lot about the little fine lines, who can handle the pressure, who can make their mark when they can.

"They have to travel to Perth and they are playing against the best team in the league, and we're playing against the second best team in the league."

He added: "We know they've got some good individuals. But at the same time we know we've got players that can hurt them as well."

Perth Glory are 4/5 to win the Grand Final.

The Glory are 6/5 to win in 90 minutes, with Sydney FC 9/4 and the draw 12/5.

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Heel no issue for retiring skipper

Captain Alex Brosque is sure he will be fine for Sydney FC's Grand Final against Perth Glory, despite playing more than he had expected in his comeback game.

Brosque had not played in almost a month before he led the Sky Blues into Sunday's semi-final thrashing of Melbourne Victory.

Ahead of the final game of his career, though, he said he was convinced he would not have any issues from the heel problem that had sidelined him.

Brosque played the full 90 minutes of the 6-1 win over Victory at Jubilee Stadium, before later admitting he had only anticipated being involved for an hour.

He needed an injection before the semi-final, but says his display wasn't hampered by any discomfort – he scored one of the goals against the defending champions.

"It's good, it's OK," Brosque said of his heel. "It held up quite well, I got an injection before the game just to numb it up and it feels good."

The 35-year-old striker said his decision to play for one more season had been made after Steve Corica took over as coach from Graham Arnold.

"He was the main reason I stayed this year because I knew he had this in him," said the skipper. "I think Arnie no doubt moulded the squad into an incredible group of men and what we did in the past years was incredible.

"But I knew Bimbi (Corica) taking over, nothing would change, he'd keep everything going. I knew things would continue the way they have, so I'm really happy that in his first year, he gets us all the way to a grand final."

Sydney FC are 1/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Sky Blues are 9/4 to win in 90 minutes, with Perth 6/5 and the draw 12/5.

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A-League double for Phoenix striker

Roy Krishna is set to be among the most sought-after players in the A-League off-season, after winning the Johnny Warren Medal as the league's top player in 2018/19.

It clinched a competition double for the Fiji international, who had finished two goals clear of Adam Le Fondre to claim the Golden Boot award at the end of the regular season.

Wellington Phoenix want to keep hold of the striker, whose 18-goal tally broke the club record of Jeremy Brockie.

They are understood to have made the 31-year-old a lucrative offer, but he is attracting interest from around the league for a big-money marquee deal.

Krishna becomes the Phoenix's third winner of the Johnny Warren Medal, following Shane Smeltz in 2008-09 and Nathan Burns in 2014-15.

He is reported to have rejected an offer from expansion club Western United, while Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers are also chasing his signature.

Krishna won the player of the season award ahead of Adelaide United's Isaias – who played every minute of his team's 27 games – and Perth Glory's Neil Kilkenny, who were tied for second.

Keisuke Honda of Melbourne Victory, who is leaving at the end of his only campaign with Kevin Muscat's team, was equal-fourth despite only playing 18 goals during the season due to injury.

Despite making the Finals Series under coach Mark Rudan – who has returned to Australia after just one season in charge – Wellington look poised to lose both of the players who won A-League honours.

Keeper Filip Kurto, who was named goalkeeper of the year, is set to link up with Western United.

Ahead of Chris Ikonomidis' bid to win the Grand Final with Perth Glory against Sydney FC this weekend, the Australia international was named the A-League under-23 player of the year.

Glory coach Tony Popovic received the A-League coach of the year award for the second time.

Perth Glory are 4/5 to win the Grand Final.

The Glory are 6/5 to win in 90 minutes, with Sydney FC 9/4 and the draw 12/5.

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Reddy the penalty hero for Glory

Captain Diego Castro and keeper Liam Reddy were Perth Glory's heroes as they booked a home Grand Final with a penalty shootout victory over Adelaide United.

The Glory, who have never won the A-League championship, won the shootout 5-4 at HBF Park after the sides had been level at 3-3 after extra time.

It was an incredible semi-final which featured two goals from Castro and four penalty saves by Reddy, who also scored from the spot.

The Glory led 2-0 with nine minutes to go in normal time after Castro scored either side of the interval.

Baba Diawara got one back for the Reds when he stabbed home in a goalmouth scramble, and four minutes into added time Ryan Kitto fired into the bottom corner to send the game into extra time.

Again Perth went ahead, when Scott Neville headed past keeper Paul Izzo just before the break.

But Tony Popovic's side couldn't hold onto their advantage, with Michael Marrone's header five minutes from the end of extra time sending the semi-final into a shootout.

It was early advantage to the Reds when Castro saw his team's second spot-kick saved by Izzo, and Adelaide led 3-2 after three penalties apiece.

Reddy took over the mantle of Glory hero when he stepped up to take and convert the home side's fourth spot-kick, and he immediately saved Isaias' effort to get Perth back on level terms at 3-3.

The semi-final went into sudden death penalties with the scores 4-4 after five penalties each.

Jason Davidson and Shane Lowry both had chances to win it for Perth after Reddy saved spot-kicks from Diawara and Nikola Mileusnic, but Izzo made consecutive saves to keep the tie alive.

Finally, after Reddy's fourth penalty save from Nathan Konstandopoulos, Joel Chianese held his nerve to score and take Perth into their second Grand Final.

Meanwhile, defending champions Melbourne Victory are 12/5 to win their semi-final against Sydney FC in normal time, with the Blues 23/20, with the draw 12/5.

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Departing Kurz hails ‘fantastic’ final

Marco Kurz is happy that his tenure as Adelaide United coach will be extended for at least one more week, after they beat Melbourne City 1-0 after extra-time in their elimination final.

The 49-year-old German has already been told by the club that he won't be reappointed for next season. That's despite him also winning the FFA Cup last October when they beat Sydney FC in the final.

Kurz had steered United into the A-League Finals Series with four wins and a draw from the last five games of the regular season, and they overcame City thanks to Ben Halloran's goal one minute from the end of extra-time.

Adelaide announced in mid-March that Kurz would not be keeping his job beyond the end of this season, which is his second in charge.

The coach hailed his team's spirit and desire in their victory at Coopers Stadium.

"It was a hard game, I think we started very well," he said. "We had the chance to score one or two goals and that maybe makes it a little bit easier. But it was a fantastic game for the supporters and a fantastic game for the A-League I think from both teams."

The Reds will now travel to minor premiers Perth Glory on Friday for their semi-final.

Kurz said: "You need a fantastic game, you've to defend (well), they are really fit and are in a better position. They had a week off and they don't have to travel, but I think the boys are fit enough to play a good part in Perth."

The teams drew 0-0 when they met in Perth earlier in the season, with the Glory winning 2-0 both times they travelled to Adelaide

The Reds are 7/2 to win their semi-final against Perth in normal time, with the Glory 3/4 and a draw at full-time 11/4.

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Halloran grabs late clincher

Ben Halloran scored one minute from the end of extra-time to send Adelaide United through to the A-League semi-finals with a 1-0 victory over Melbourne City.

The winger had hit the woodwork twice earlier in the elimination final at Coopers Stadium, but made no mistake with his final chance to keep alive the Reds' hopes of clinching the double.

United have already said they will be parting company with head coach Marco Kurz at the end of this season, but he now has the chance to reach the Grand Final by beating Perth Glory on Friday.

Halloran was denied with the first good chance of the game on 14 minutes, after being played through by Craig Goodwin. He fired a first-time shot from outside the area that smacked against the crossbar.

City's best opportunity of the first half saw United keeper Paul Izzo save from a Luke Brattan shot which bounced just in front of him.

Kurz, who named the same starting side for the third consecutive match, saw them continue with their high intensity approach into the second-half.

But Izzo needed to make a superb save to push away Riley McGree's powerful shot from 25 yards out.

Nothing could separate the teams after 90 minutes of action, and the first half of extra-time produced few chances.

The second period was an all-action affair, though, with Shay Harrison first bringing a brilliant save from Izzo when he struck a curling shot.

Then Halloran hit the woodwork for the second time when he squeezed a shot between the legs of keeper Eugene Galekovic but saw the ball bounce back off the foot of the post.

With penalties looming, Halloran came up with a clinical finish from Senegalese striker Baba Diawara's square pass to book Adelaide's trip to Perth.

The Reds are 7/2 to win their semi-final against Perth in normal time, with the Glory 3/4 and a draw at full-time 11/4.

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Glory end with five-star display

Andy Keogh scored twice in the first half to set Perth Glory on their way to a 5-0 victory against Wellington Phoenix in the final game of the A-League regular season.

The defeat means Wellington drop to sixth in the final standings and will have to travel to Melbourne Victory in the first week of the Finals Series.

For the Glory, who had already secured the Premiers' Plate, it was an 18th win of the campaign as they finished eight points clear of runners-up Sydney FC.

Phoenix coach Mark Rudan opted to rest six starters including Golden Boot winner Roy Krishna and skipper Andrew Durante. Had they done any better than losing to Perth by two goals it would have meant an elimination final away to Adelaide United, who they have not beaten in four years.

That prospect virtually disappointed inside the first half hour when Keogh netted a brace.

The Irish striker first converted after Diego Castro struck the crossbar, then seven minutes later he headed past back-up keeper Oli Sail from a Jason Davidson cross.

Keogh launched the move that led to the third goal on 51 minutes, with Castro slotting home from Ivan Franjic's cross.

Perth made it 4-0 midway through the second half as Castro played a through-ball for Chris Ikonomidis to run onto and drill a shot past Sail. The effort was initially flagged for offside but then awarded by the VAR.

With seven minutes left Brendon Santalab, who has confirmed he will retire at the end of the season, stepped clear of his marker and tapped in Glory's fifth.

Rudan said after the game: "We used the game for our own purposes and we got what we needed out of the game as far as I'm concerned. The result [is] irrelevant.

"We knew what we had to do today and there were some things that worked and some that didn't but again most of the guys who started have not had much game time this year. No problems."

Wellington are 20/1 to win the Grand Final while Australia are 250/1 to win the 2020 World Cup.

Win could cost City derby final

Melbourne City face missing out on a blockbuster elimination final against Melbourne Victory following their 5-0 thrashing of Central Coast.

City have gone public this week about how much they would relish taking on their rivals in the first week of the finals.

But they may have cost themselves the chance to do so due to the size of their final-round win over the Mariners.

They will only face Victory if they finish sixth, which is the position they occupy ahead of the final regular season game that sees the Phoenix travel to Perth Glory.

But with City now level on points and just one goal behind Wellington, Mark Rudan's team could slip below them on Sunday – if they do, City will travel to Adelaide United rather than have an AAMI Park clash with Victory.

Warren Joyce's side were far too good for the wooden spoon side in their final game, with the Mariners suffering a 20th defeat of the campaign.

Shayon Harrison was a star for the hosts, scoring twice, while the best goal of the night was the final effort from youngster Ramy Najjarine.

Captain Scott Jamieson returned to action in more than a month for City, who took 35 minutes to get off the mark.

On-loan striker Harrison dribbled into the Mariners penalty area where he went past Jacob Melling and Matt Millar before dropping a shoulder and beating Jem Karacan and sliding a left-foot shot in off the far post.

Three minutes before the break Jamieson's cross picked out Riley McGree for an emphatic volleyed finish from close range.

City took only three minutes of the second half to add to their tally as Dario Vidosic swept in Lachlan Wales' pass across the face of goal.

The fourth goal followed soon after, with Wales again the provider. This time he slid a pass through to Harrison who got round Samuel Graham before shooting home under Adam Pearce in the Mariners goal.

Najjarine notched his first A-League goal in stoppage time with a fierce drive from outside the area.

Idris Abdulahi, at 16, became City's youngest ever player when he came off the bench in the 81st minute.

Melbourne City are 20/1 to win the Grand Final.

Meanwhile, minor premiers Perth Glory are 4/7 to win their next game against Wellington Phoenix, who are 9/2 with the draw 10/3.

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