Victory ready for Kawasaki challenge

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick is confident his players have the mental fortitude to put the disappointment of Saturday's Grand Final loss behind them and focus on Tuesday night's all-important AFC Champions League match against Kawasaki Frontale in Japan.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick is confident his players have the mental fortitude to put the disappointment of Saturday's Grand Final loss behind them and focus on Tuesday night's all-important AFC Champions League match against Kawasaki Frontale in Japan.

Merrick said the mood was sombre on the flight to Japan as the reality of the penalty shootout defeat hit home. But he said the mist was starting to lift from around the players ahead of Tuesday's match.

"The mental thing comes from the players a lot. It's tough loss to take when they played so well for 90 minutes then hung in there for the extra half an hour and it comes down to a lottery and we weren't the better team in the penalty shootout," he said on Monday.

"You know what the boys are like. You've got to give them a lot of credit, they have to deal with this month after month during the year and I think they'll get up again. There's plenty of characters within the team. Nik Mrdja is fresh and full of life, Kevin always get the team going again. Before long you get that team spirit back again and that started last night."

Merrick admitted that several of the players are sore and stiff, especially the older players such as Rody Vargas, Kevin Muscat and Grant Brebner. He said he will give them every chance to prove they are fit for Tuesday's match.

"We had a light gym and pool session and they all had physio treatment last night. We are just preparing for an on-field session. Our concerns are the older players I guess and the midfielders who had to do the most work," he said.

"After that 120 minutes of football, Rody (Vargas), Kevin Muscat, Brebs (Grant Brebner), Leigh Broxham, these are the guys I'm having to have a better look at this afternoon."

Melbourne is currently without a point in two ACL matches so far having lost to Beijing Guoan and Seongnam Ilhwa and needs a win against Kawasaki on Tuesday.

But Merrick said the need to get points from this encounter will not influence the way his team will approach the match.

"We have to make sure we have them covered defensively and we've been doing that well all year. Our set plays have improved out of sight and we're scoring regularly," he said.

"You can't go into a game worried about losing, you've got to go into game thinking, 'how do we beat this team?' 'how do we play to our strengths?' and I've always maintained that's the way Melbourne Victory will play."