Surat Sukha will become the first Thai to play in the A-League next August, after Melbourne Victory announced his signing. The reigning Australian champions, who also confirmed Costa Rican international Carlos Hernandez has signed a new three-year deal, said the 26-year-old had joined for two years.
Sukha joins from Chonburi, who played against Melbourne in the AFC Champions League 2008. A left-sided defender with 14 Thailand caps to his name, he becomes the second Chonburi player to join Victory after Brazilian forward Ney Fabiano was recruited last year.
"I am very happy that I will be the first Thai player to play in Australia's top football league," Surat said. "I hope this will be the first step for other Thai players to follow."
Hernandez, who has been with the club for two years on loan, was made an official Victory player. The Australians said they paid an undisclosed transfer fee to Costa Rican outfit Alajuelense to secure the 26-year-old until the end of the 2011/12 A-League season.
The stylish playmaker had a major role in Victory's charge to their second A-League title last season. Gary Cole, their football operations manager, said the process of securing Hernandez was a complicated one, but the champions were delighted with the outcome.
"This has been the longest process that we've been involved in. It's been complex, but we've finally worked it out for everyone concerned and everyone's excited about that," he said.
Cole said it took a significant amount to secure the player's release from his former club. Reports in Costa Rica said Victory paid $400,000 to Alajuelense for Hernandez.