Victory focus turns to ACL

Redemption for Melbourne Victory awaits in the Asian Champions League, according to captain Adrian Leijer.

Redemption for Melbourne Victory awaits in the Asian Champions League, according to captain Adrian Leijer.

Victory crashed out of the race for the Hyundai A-League championship when Gold Coast's Dino Djulbic scored in the 91st minute of their elimination semi-final on Sunday for a 1-0 win at Skilled Park.

Leijer said that Victory now have a chance to put their full focus on the ACL, as compared to last year when their campaign to progress from the group stages was hindered by their involvement in the A-League finals series.

"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 get something out of the campaign.

"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."

Kevin Muscat will return from suspension for the ACL group stages before retiring.

Merrick said the toll of playing in 38 degree heat had told on his team late in the match.

"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."