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Muscat takes aim at stoppages

Wellington Phoenix have won plenty of admirers this season with their swashbuckling style, and rookie coach Mark Rudan has put his name up in lights as a candidate for jobs back in Australia.

They shared six goals in a pulsating thriller with Victory on Sunday night, the hosts coming back from a two goal deficit to force a 3-3 draw with a Kosta Barbarouses equaliser two minutes from time.

Wellington's Alex Rufer tangles with Victory's Carl Valeri.

Wellington’s Alex Rufer tangles with Victory’s Carl Valeri.Credit:AAP

But Muscat found reason to complain about the number of stoppages that occurred as his side was pressing to get back into the game in the second half.

”As a code we have got to stop this treatment for players getting cramp,” Muscat said.

He argued that not only does it give other sports a chance to criticise soccer, it disadvantages hard-running teams that have a fitness edge on their opposition.

” I don’t see it happening anywhere else. If you gain an advantage because of your physicality over a team it shouldn’t be taken away from you by the referee,” he added.

”And that goes for my players, for anybody in the competition. I think for entertainment value, it would have been more entertaining if your advantage was not taken away from you. ”

Victory are second on the league table, three points behind leaders Perth Glory.

They have kept up with the pace setters despite missing the services of several key players – first-choice centre-backs Georg Niedermeier and Nick Ansell as well as marquee man Keisuke Honda.

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Ansell is a chance of being considered for Saturday’s glamour Australia Day clash with Sydney at AAMI Park, and while the other two are still not ready yet there is light at the end of the injury tunnel for them.

”Nick is about to join the team for full training, so he has near enough ticked all the boxes,” Muscat said before the Wellington match.

”Georg has some tests he has to get through, Keisuke is running out on the track. All are at the back end of their rehab, but not are available.

”Once they are running they have certain tests they have to get through before they can join the group for training, and once they do that you can monitor them for specific football actions required to be involved.”

Michael Lynch, The Age’s expert on soccer, has had extensive experience of high level journalism in the UK and Australia. Michael has covered the Socceroos through Asia, Europe and South America in their past three World Cup campaigns. He has also reported on Grands Prix and top class motor sport from Asia and Europe. He has won several national media awards for both sports and industry journalism.

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