FOOTBALL: Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat is refusing to give up on his side's chase of undefeated Sydney FC atop the A-League ladder.
After conceding two late goals to succumb to a 2-1 loss to Perth at nib Stadium on Saturday night, Victory has now lost two games in row on the back of its 3-0 reverse in Wellington last Tuesday.
But with the runaway ladder leaders coming to Etihad Stadium for a mouthwatering Australia Day blockbuster on Thursday, Muscat said his side will not need any extra motivation to perform this week.
After 16 games Sydney has won 12 and drawn four.
It sits eight points clear of Victory, which is a further six points ahead of third-placed Melbourne City.
Despite the gap, Muscat said his side's pursuit of the Sky Blues is not a lost cause with 11 games to play.
"I'll never give up," Muscat said.
"We've still got to play Sydney twice. I'll never give up. It's not in my nature. I make sure I surround myself with like-minded people.
"We've got a big game at home. Prior to these games we'd won six on the bounce, so I'm certainly not going to panic.
"I'm sure we'll have a look at (the Perth loss), we'll freshen up and we won't need any motivation next week.
"It'll be a good game of football and we look forward to it."
Despite having to travel to Wellington and Perth within the space of four days, Muscat said Victory's heavy schedule had "nothing to do with" its fade out in the west.
Instead, the coach said his team was the master of its own demise, making costly mistakes late in the defeat.
"It was the worst possible night for us because I thought for the majority of that game we were very good," he said.
"Yes we could have ... extended the lead and the game should have been out of Perth's reach.
"But then we found a way to destruct and beat ourselves, because I thought we were the much better team on the night.
"Some poor decisions when it got towards the end when good decisions need to be made under a little bit of pressure. The free kick was just too easy. Not the making of the free kick, just the score was too easy.
"There were just some poor decisions, but the game should have been dead and buried."