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Muscat faces ban for 'disgraceful' tackle

A defender who became a folk hero at Millwall but was described by one opponent as "the most hated man in football" for his thuggish behaviour may have committed his last misdemeanour. After Kevin Muscat received the latest in a long line of red cards for a horrendous foul that even he admitted was "dreadfully mistimed" there was speculation here that the former Australia international might receive a ban that would effectively end his career.

Muscat, 37, is the captain of Melbourne Victory, who play in Australia's national A-League. He had been sent off in his previous match a fortnight ago and saw red again in Saturday's local derby against Melbourne Heart.

With 11 minutes remaining, Muscat launched into a tackle that sent Heart's Adrian Zahra flying into the air. There were initial fears that the midfielder had torn all the ligaments in his knee and might never play again, though club medical staff said yesterday that he had suffered only partial tears and should return next season. Mark Bosnich, a former colleague of Muscat's in the Australia team, told Fox Sports: "That was a disgraceful tackle. I would actually suggest he should be out for as long as Zahra's out."

There was such widespread condemnation of the challenge that Muscat was expected to receive a lengthy ban today from a disciplinary panel. With four matches of the regular campaign remaining, he may not play again this season, which could mean the end of his A-League career.

Muscat made a public apology, taking full responsibility for "an incident that I deeply regret", adding: "It was a mistimed tackle, dreadfully mistimed. At no point did I have any intent to injure the player."