Melbourne Victory’s Merrick proud despite ACL exit

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick was proud of his players even though they were dumped out of the Asian Champions League last night.

The Victory needed no less than a win against Beijing Guoan at home but could only manage a scoreless draw which resigned them to the bottom of Group E with no way of progressing any further in the competition.

But Merrick believes his players did well, particularly as the early part of their campaign was hindered by the fact they were still playing domestic finals in the A-League.

“We're certainly unhappy with the results but I think our players did a fantastic in the Champions League under very difficult circumstances," he said.

"Of our bench of six players, five of them are amateurs who have been playing in a youth team and training twice a week. We finished up with seven players 22 or under on the pitch and none of those youngsters have let us down."

And Merrick added that it was hard to take on teams such as Beijing when missing so many quality players.

“I thought the first 25 minutes we were flat. There was a lack of creativity,” he added.

“But when you've got the quality of players out that we had like (Grant) Brebner, Tommy Pondeljak and Billy Celeski you are always going to be struggling for confidence in the midfield and good possession. We struggled in that period but we got better as the game went on.”

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