Melbourne Victory skipper Carl Valeri has vowed the A-League champions will learn from the “harsh lesson” they were dealt by APIA Leichhardt in their shock FFA Cup defeat.
Valeri admitted his team was clearly out-enthused by the NSW NPL outfit, who won 3-2 in Tuesday night’s round of 16 clash at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney.
It will go down as one of the biggest upsets in the tournament’s short history and APIA’s finest hour since they won the National Soccer League title in 1987.
Two goals from Japanese striker Tasuku Sekiya and a late header from Nathan Millgate sealed the result, heading off a late comeback from Victory, who had equalised at 2-2 after a Kenny Athiu brace.
“At the end of the day, I’m not shocked [by] what happened,” Valeri said.
“If you don’t show up, if you don’t play with the right desire, you’re not going to win a match of football.
“It’s a harsh lesson and one we must learn from. Knowing these guys and what kind of people they are, I know we will grasp this lesson and not let go of it and remember it every time we go out into training and into the next game.”
Melbourne looked flat from the outset and were without two players who loom as vitally important to their A-League chances this season — prized marquee signing Keisuke Honda and defensive recruit Georg Niedermeier, who were both left at home.
APIA had played 120 minutes on Saturday in their penalty shootout defeat to Sydney United in the NPL semifinals — but they defied their heavy legs to produce a stirring performance that puts them into the FFA Cup’s final eight for the first time.
“That’s the beauty of the cup,” Valeri said. “They produced on the day and to be honest, if we did end up winning, we probably would have been a bit lucky because their desire was quite evident.
“We dominated for a patch for about 10 minutes in the second half, [otherwise] it was all them.”
Coach Kevin Muscat was confident it wouldn’t derail Victory’s preparations for the upcoming season.
“It’s a long way before the season starts. It won’t be a setback… but it’s very disappointing that we’re out of the cup,” Muscat told Fox Sports.
“When you expect things to happen without earning it, nights like tonight occur.”