Victory appoint Durakovic, target Kewell
Melbourne Victory have confirmed Mehmet Durakovic, the club's caretaker coach for the past three months, has been handed the role on a permanent basis.
Durakovic oversaw the final five matches of Melbourne's AFC Champions League campaign, leading them to a win, three draws and a loss after the sudden departure of Ernie Merrick. The 45-year-old had been Victory's youth coach before being given his chance to audition for the job in the Champions League, where his tactical nous won praise from those both inside and outside the club.
Durakovic's former South Melbourne and Socceroos team-mate Francis Awaritefe has been appointed football director. "In Mehmet and Francis, we have two young and respected former Socceroos who we believe will take this club to the next level - both domestically and in Asia. They have extensive experience in Australian football and are both incredibly driven to succeed," said Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro.
"Mehmet did a fantastic job in a short space of time to transform our recent AFC Champions League campaign and demonstrated to the board that his managerial and coaching skills were of the quality we were seeking. The way Mehmet presented throughout the process was second to none and it became clear that he was the right person to take the club forward."
Having filled the coaching vacancy, Di Petro will now turn his attention to capturing the signature of Socceroos star Harry Kewell. "Harry Kewell is an iconic sports figure in Australia, not just in football. It would be great for the A-League. We would love Harry to come back to Australia," he said.
"This is the first time we've admitted to negotiating with a player. That in itself tells you of the significance of a signing like Harry Kewell. We're not in a position to say that it is any closer or not. We're in the mix with everybody else."
Durakovic feels Kewell would bring a lot more to the club than just pulling power, and would help them build on their youth development program. "He brings a wealth of experience. Being a Socceroo and playing for so many years overseas. It would be wonderful to have him on the pitch, week in, week out," he said. "The experience he would bring to the youngsters, show them what he has done and teach them is absolutely phenomenal. It would be great to have him on board."