Manny Muscat hopes to give his father Frank the perfect 60th birthday present when the Wellington Phoenix take on Perth Glory in a Hyundai A-League elimination playoff final at Nib Stadium tomorrow.
Frank Muscat and his wife Catherine are their sons- biggest supporters and are usually in attendance whenever the Phoenix play in Australia.
“It would be really special for both of us if I could give him a win for a present,” Muscat said.
“He-s followed me all over since I started playing and he and mum come to the games whenever possible.
“Football gives him something to take his mind of business for a while and there is no one more enthusiastic than Dad.”
The business he refers to is a Building and Property Development company run by Manny and Frank, along with Manny-s brother Paul.
It was formed during the building boom and the business has been so successful father and sons can now sit back and decide when they want to build houses.
“Yes we began at the right time and we did well during the boom,” Muscat said.
“I-ve got my builder-s licence and I like to be hands on, so we usually do our planning and obtaining permits during the season and then build a couple of houses during the off-season.
“It also means that I have something to move into when I stop playing.”
The only business on Muscat-s mind tomorrow however will be how to beat Perth Glory and move to within one game of the Grand Final.
“I think this is the big hurdle for us, being away from home and after a long trip,” he said.
“If we can get over it then I believe we have a great chance of making the final.”
Muscat said he wasn-t feeling at all nervous 24 hours out from the big game, but knows that will change as kick off time approaches.
“Once I step over that line I know the nerves will kick in but that is what big games are all about.
“Conrad Smith came and had a chat to us before the Sydney game and stressed that we should enjoy the occasion but don-t leave anything out there, to give it everything we-ve got.”
Both elimination games in the playoff series so far (Phoenix beating Sydney and Perth seeing off Melbourne Heart) have been dour affairs in the first half before opening up in the second spell.
“It took us a while to get into our game because no one wants to make an early mistake,” he said.
“It is crucial that we get the first goal on Saturday because we are a good team defensively.
“By that I-m not saying we would sit back, just be solid defensively.
“There will be mistakes but we have to make sure they are not in the wrong areas of the field.”
Much has been said and written about the threat of Shane Smeltz thanks to the former Phoenix striker scoring seven goals in his last two games.
Muscat is the first to acknowledge Smeltz- prowess in front of goal and says the Phoenix need to stifle the service to him.
“Smeltzy has great qualities but it is up to us as a unit to stop the service into him because give him a sniff and he can make you pay.
“Having said that Dura (captain Andrew Durante) and Siggy (Ben Sigmund) know Smeltzy well and have handled him in the past.
“Our games with Perth are always tight affairs because they play a similar style to ours. They are quite physical and look to hit the front man early.
“We have to win the second balls. It is going to be good game and I can-t wait to get into it.-