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May 14, 2008   |  5:46PM AET

Former Socceroos to lead Victory youngsters

Former Socceroos to lead Victory youngsters

Melbourne Victory today took a major step in the development of its inaugural National Youth League team, appointing former Qantas Socceroo Mehmet Durakovic as Coach and current Victory Goalkeeping Coach Steve Mautone as Assistant Coach.

Melbourne Victory today took a major step in the development of its inaugural National Youth League team, appointing former Qantas Socceroo Mehmet Durakovic as Coach and current Victory Goalkeeping Coach Steve Mautone as Assistant Coach.

Durakovic, 42, brings a wealth of experience from his three years as Assistant Coach at the Victorian Institute of Sport, while Mautone, 37, has extended his position with the club to a full time role, which also involves recruiting.

Durakovic made 64 appearances for Australia and played nearly 500 league matches, winning championships with Brunswick Juventus and South Melbourne in the former National Soccer League.

The former defender also spent four seasons with Malaysian outfit Selangor FA, where he led the club to a host of titles and received a PJK Award from the Malaysian government for outstanding achievements in sport.

Following his distinguished career on the field, Durakovic earned his International Asia ‘A- Coaching Licence and took over as Port Melbourne Soccer Club-s Head Coach in 2003, before joining the VIS two years later.

“Mehmet Durakovic is a legend in Victorian football,” Victory Football Operations Manager Gary Cole said.

“He was a wonderful player and he-s been Assistant Coach to Ian Greener at the VIS for three years.

“He-s been part of their youth development and understands very well the football development program here in Victoria.

“He-s very excited to be in football full time and we-re sure he-s going to do a fantastic job.”

Mautone experienced a successful goalkeeping career locally and abroad, which included stints with several English clubs including Reading FC, Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Ham United in the English Premier League.

“To support Mehmed we-ve got Steve Mautone, who-s currently our Goalkeeping Coach and also has a terrific background,” Cole added.

“He-s got his International Asia ‘B- Coaching Licence and has started work on his ‘A- Licence.

“Steve now has three roles within the one, he-s still the club-s Goalkeeping Coach and he-s also got a part time recruiting role assisting Ernie and I.

“As well as that, he-s Assistant Coach of the club-s National Youth League team and will be heavily involved with Mehmed in the recruiting of players for the National Youth League, which well and truly adds up to a full time job.”

Cole said the club had followed the same established model used for Victory-s Hyundai A-League team when building the National Youth League team and will now start recruiting players.

“The program-s got to be built from the ground up,” Cole said.

“Again we-ve followed the model that was very successful for us for the Hyundai A-League side, so the first thing we wanted to do was appoint coaches and we-ve done that with Mehmed and Steve.

“Part of what we can offer Victorian kids now is coaches that have been through all of the development programs as players.

“They-ve represented Victoria at a range of different ages and they-ve gone through and followed that pathway.

“We can offer the kids not only good coaches, but players that have represented Australia and have walked the path that most of these kids are going to want to follow.”

The National Youth League will be run in conjunction with the Hyundai A-League season and will comprise seven teams, one from each of the Hyundai A-League-s current Australian clubs, providing players aged between 16-21 years of age a clear pathway from youth leagues to senior level.

Victory will look to secure second spot in Group G of the AFC Champions League 2008 when it faces Chonburi in its final match at Telstra Dome on Wednesday, 21 May.

Tickets for the match, as well as Victory-s blockbuster friendly against Italian giant Juventus FC at Telstra Dome on Friday, 30 May, are available from any Ticketmaster outlet, by calling 136 100 or by logging on to ticketmaster.com.au.