Merrick: We can't afford to slip up

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick conceded his team has no more room for error in its AFC Champions League campaign after it suffered its second loss in two outings in the group stage on Tuesday night.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick conceded his team has no more room for error in its AFC Champions League campaign after it suffered its second loss in two outings in the group stage on Tuesday night.

For the second match running it was a former Australian-based player who did the damage as ex-Adelaide defender Sasa Ognenovski scored the opening goal for Korean side Seongnam Ilhwa during its 2-0 win over the reigning Hyundai A-League champions at Docklands.

That result followed on from a 1-0 loss to Beijing Guoan in the opening game in China when another former Hyundai A-League player in Joel Griffiths scored the winning goal.

Those two results leave Melbourne bottom of the group with no points from four matches and needing to avoid any more losses if it is to reach the knockout stage for the first time.

"We probably have to go unbeaten from here (to qualify for the knockout stages)," Merrick conceded after the loss to the Koreans.

"I don't think we have to win every game but if we give away another game, I think we'll struggle."

"It's not going to be easy but hopefully the results will fall favourably for us with the other teams."

"But I always feel you are in with a good chance when you are playing in a group of four where two go through to the next level."

Merrick refused to blame the two-day back-up following the thrilling second leg of the major semi-final against Sydney - which gave the Victory hosting rights for this year's Hyunai A-League grand final on March 20 - for the loss to Seongnam.

"I've just came away from a players meeting (after the game) and I praised the players," Merrick said of his team.

"I thought they played terrific football and we created some really good goal scoring opportunities inside the 18-yard box and had we put away one or two of those, I think it would have been a different game."

Merrick's major disappointment was the fact that both the visitors' goals came from set pieces - a free kick and a corner.

"They weren't tired mistakes (following the short back-up between matches) but they were a lack of discipline," he said.

"I won't go into who was slack (in terms of marking) but someone was slack."

Merrick said the fact the Victory reported no injuries out of the game was a bonus and with the team now enjoying an 11-day break before the grand final on March 20, Melbourne could have virtually a full squad to choose from for the premiership decider with Kevin Muscat and Grant Brebner to return after being rested on Tuesday night although last year's grand final hero Tom Pondeljak remains doubtful with a hamstring injury.

"Now our focus is on the grand final and it's shaping up very well for us," Merrick said.

"We haven't had our best side all year but we may be able to get that for the grand final."