UK club eyes Muscat as his J.League title equation heats up: KEEPUP Beyond the A-Leagues

Keanu Baccus starred in St Mirren’s dominant victory over St Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership with a stunning goal.

From the J1 League and France’s Ligue 2, to the Eredivisie and Scottish Premiership. KEEPUP has you covered on all the news about our Aussie men abroad.

Marinos’ title hopes boosted with Muscat’s future in the spotlight

Fasten your seatbelts ladies and gentlemen, Japan’s J1 League title race is going down to the wire and an Australian is at the heart of it.

Kevin Muscat‘s Yokohama F.Marinos crushed Avispa Fukuoka 4-0 to move within two points of top spot with just three games remaining after league-leading Vissel Kobe were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by Shonan Bellmare.

Muscat guided F.Marinos to their first title since the Ange Postecoglou era in 2019 last season, but the defending champions are within touching distance of something not even the latter achieved in Japan’s top flight – back-to-back league crowns.

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“I have been saying to the players since I came to Yokohama, we must focus on ourselves more than our opponents,” Muscat said after Saturday’s result.

“First of all, we stand on the pitch aiming to win. I don’t have time to focus on anything else, and I feel like I want to focus on what we do. And it is thanks to the supporters who came all the way to Fukuoka that gave us great strength as a team.”

He added: “With this emblem in my heart, I will fight until the very end with a firm and strong will.”

F.Marinos’ title charge comes amid ongoing speculation over the future of Muscat, who has fellow Aussie Shaun Ontong as his assistant and Greg King as head of physical performance and health.

Muscat was in a two-horse race for the Rangers job before the Scottish giants appointed Philippe Clement to replace Michael Beale.

The A-Leagues legend, however, has been linked with another job in the United Kingdom – Millwall.

It is his former club, who are looking to hire a new boss after sacking Gary Rowett in the EFL Championship earlier this month.

Muscat spent two years playing for Millwall between 2003 and 2005.

Rumours over a return to Millwall have refused to subside and now journalist Alan Nixon has claimed the Championship outfit want to open talks with Muscat to become their new boss this week, having spoken to a number of candidates.

However, the former Australia international could need some persuading as he has been offered a new contract at F.Marinos, where he replaced Postecoglou midway through 2021.

Ex-Melbourne Victory and now Yokohama F.Marinos boss Muscat has been following a path walked by his trailblazing mentor Postecoglou.

But Muscat has been doing things his own way while tasting success since replacing Postecoglou in July 2021, having guided F.Marinos to the J1 League title last season.

A long-time assistant to Postecoglou at Victory in the Isuzu UTE A-League before replacing the Aussie trailblazer in Yokohama following his switch to Celtic in 2021, Muscat’s F.Marinos were crowned kings of Japan for the first time since 2019.

But with Postecoglou already in London via high-flying Premier League side Tottenham, he could go down a similar route in the English capital.

Elsewhere in Japan meanwhile, Mitch Langerak‘s Nagoya Grampus were held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Sagan Tosu.

Peter Cklamovski‘s FC Tokyo lost 2-1 at home to Sanfrecce Hiroshima, while Socceroos defender Thomas Deng started in Albirex Niigata’s 1-0 win at Kyoto Sanga.

In J2 League, Mitch Duke‘s promoted Machida Zelvia defeated Kanazawa 1-0 to seal the championship.

Stefan Mauk‘s Okayama Fagiano drew 1-1 with Tochigi as they slipped four points adrift of the top six.

‘It would be easy to leave’

Patrick Kisnorbo is remaining defiant amid Troyes’ winless run in Ligue 2.

Troyes twice surrendered a lead in their 2-2 draw away to Mohamed Toure‘s Paris FC on Saturday.

Toure came off the bench with 17 minutes remaining as Paris rallied to salvage a point in the 86th minute in an all too familiar story for Troyes.

In four of their last six games, Troyes have conceded late goals as their winless streak now stands at 10 matches.

Not since August have Troyes – who were relegated from Ligue 1 last season – won a game in France’s second tier.

However, former Melbourne City boss Kisnorbo is refusing to surrender as criticism of his tenure grows louder.

Troyes have only won two matches since he took charge in November last year.

“It was my choice to come to Troyes,” he said via L’Est Eclair.

“It would be easy to say stop, to leave. But I’m happy to be here, in a good club, with good people. I won’t let go. there is something to do here. 

“I want to create something for the future… But as for several long months, we have not been rewarded. We must continue to work, so that finally, one day, the tide turns.”

In Belgium, Jordy Bos completed the full 90 minutes as Westerlo lost 3-1 to Belgian Pro League leaders Union SG.

Aiden O’Neill came off the bench just past the hour in Standard Liege’s 3-1 defeat away to Gent, while Jason Davidson was a substitute in KAS Eupen’s 2-0 win over Sporting Charleroi.

Across in Germany’s 2.Bundesliga, Connor Metcalfe provided an assist as high-flying St Pauli defeated Karlsruher 2-1.

Jackson Irvine captained the league leaders, who are yet to lose after 11 rounds.

Socceroo captain’s scary experience in the Netherlands

Mathew Ryan and AZ Alkmaar saw their Eredivisie clash with NEC Nijmegen abandoned after veteran Bas Dost collapsed on the pitch.

AZ were trailing 2-1 in the 91st minute when NEC’s Dost – an 18-time Netherlands international – collapsed, having opened the scoring and provided an assist on Sunday.

Players from both teams stood around Dost as he was treated after regaining consciousness and was carried off the field, with players visibly emotional.

“The AZ-NEC match was stopped in the 90th minute on Sunday evening with the score 1-2. Bas Dost collapsed on the field and was immediately helped by all the emergency services present,” NEC said in a statement on their website.

“Dost was carried from the field by the emergency services and taken to hospital.”

Dost later used social media to provide an update on his situation.

“I’m doing well. The help I received on the field was fantastic,” Dost said on X, formerly known as Twitter, “I’m in the hospital now and I feel good. Thanks for all the support!”

Garang Kuol played 45 minutes as FC Volendam overcame Excelsior 3-1, while Adrian Segecic scored two goals for FC Dordrecht in their 5-1 mauling of Den Bosch.

Elsewhere, Keanu Baccus scored a stunning opener as St Mirren dismantled St Johnstone 4-0 in the Scottish Premiership.

It was his second goal of the season but first in the league for St Mirren, who are third in the standings.

Nick Montgomery’s Hibernian held defending champions and leaders Celtic to a 0-0 draw in Edinburgh.

Lewis Miller (named man of the match), Jimmy Jeggo and Martin Boyle all started for Hibs against Celtic.

There was heartbreak for Kye Rowles, Calem Nieuwenhof and Cammy Devlin as Hearts were beaten 2-1 by Rangers at the death.

Leading 1-0, Hearts conceded a 90th-minute penalty before a 93rd-minute header saw Rangers somehow come away with maximum points.

In the EFL Championship, Massimo Luongo started as Ipswich Town took down Ben Waine’s Plymouth Argyle 3-2 as they stayed second and within five points of Harry Souttar‘s Leicester City with a game in hand.

Cameron Burgess was absent for Ipswich, while Souttar was an unused substitute in Leicester’s win at QPR.

Craig Goodwin made it five goals in six league games for Al Wehda in their agonising loss to Steven Gerrard’s Al Ettifaq in the Saudi Pro League.

The former Adelaide United captain scored twice but Al Ettifaq equalised in the 81st minute and scored the winner in the eighth minute of stoppage time.

Arthur Papas‘ Buriram United drew 0-0 with BG Pathum United as they stayed undefeated in Thai League 1. They are fourth in the standings and three points off the pace with a game in hand.