News, views and abuse from Australia
It doesn't take much to want to shove Kevin Muscat to the ground. The Melbourne Victory veteran is one of the most irritating players in the A-League, and he's been involved in numerous stoushes over the years.
So it was no surprise to see North Queensland Fury defender Eric Akoto sent off last Sunday afternoon after a match-long feud with Muscat, as Akoto fulfilled the wishes of A-League fans up and down the country by pushing Muscat to the ground.
It was a bizarre tête-à-tête which came to a head when Muscat stood on the Togo international's mouthguard, prompting Akoto to simply knock the Victory defender over and retrieve his missing dental wear.
Unfortunately for Akoto, rookie referee Chris Boyle interpreted the shove as violent conduct and flashed his second red card of the match, which bizarrely arrived as Fury striker Chris Payne waited patiently to take a penalty.
Payne slotted home from the spot as a truly remarkable encounter finished in a 2-2 draw, but Akoto's dismissal left a sour taste for the Fury and they set about launching an immediate appeal.
Muscat was typically forthright in his defence, alleging that he and Akoto had merely engaged in a "bit of banter" throughout the fiery clash, but eye witnesses tell a different tale of Muscat repeatedly gesticulating at the newly signed Fury defender.
One gesture involved Muscat inferring that Akoto smelled, and the unsavoury incident has understandably raised the spectre of racism rearing its ugly head in the A-League.
Veteran Muscat later shrugged off the incident, but privately Fury officials were left fuming, and the mood won't have improved after Football Federation Australia dismissed their appeal to have Akoto's red card rescinded.
The much-travelled defender will now miss the Fury's next two matches, but his wasn't the only dramatic incident in what was one of the most action-packed fixtures in recent memory.
Fury took an unexpected lead through another of their African imports, Ugandan striker Eugene Sseppuya, who knocked home a scrappy finish to open the scoring on the quarter hour mark.
The match then exploded into life with half an hour gone as Fury defender Chris Grossman was harshly dismissed for tripping Robbie Kruse inside the area, and man-of-the-moment Muscat stepped up to convert from the spot and exorcise the demons of his 2009/10 Grand Final penalty shootout miss.
In the second half Victory had two legitimate appeals for another penalty denied, the second of which saw Robbie Kruse booked for diving, but it was a case of third-time lucky when new signing Geoff Kellaway went down under an Osama Malik challenge, with Muscat once again converting from the spot.
There was still time for Akoto's outlandish intervention, and he practically had to be dragged off the pitch by his own team-mates as Fury waited to take their own spot-kick, which youngster Payne confidently drilled home.
But it was the ugly spat between Muscat and Akoto that remains the talking point from a game in which Victory missed an avalanche of chances to claim all three points.
A media career seemingly awaits Muscat upon his retirement - he's already acted as a commentator for Channel 10 and SBS - but the latest in a long line of incidents won't be quickly forgotten, particularly if the hitherto silent Akoto reveals what really happened on the pitch.
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