Victory sign up first Youth players

Melbourne Victory is close to completing its inaugural Youth team after signing seven promising young Victorians ahead of the first National Youth League (NYL) season.

Melbourne Victory is close to completing its inaugural Youth team after signing seven promising young Victorians ahead of the first National Youth League (NYL) season.

Local players Mijo Marinovic, Robert Wynne, Antonio LaVerde, Aziz Behich and Matthew Foschini, as well as Stephen Hatzikostas and Fabio DiLizia from the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) will all represent Victory Youth when the NYL begins in late September.

Victory Youth Coach Mehmet Durakovic said he and Victory Youth Assistant Coach Steve Mautone left no stone unturned in recruitment and are looking forward to developing some of the state-s most exciting youngsters.

“There are so many talented players in Victoria and we-re confident that we-ve selected a very capable, young side with a tremendous future,” Durakovic said.

“Steve and I have watched countless matches throughout the state, and we-ve also received a lot of good feedback from the VIS, Football Federation Victoria and local coaches.

“We-ve gone from Melbourne all the way through to the country looking at these young players, and with so many promising youngsters there were many tough decisions.

“I-m confident that we-ve picked the right players and now can develop them into bigger and better footballers.”

Marinovic, 19, is the oldest of the recruits and joins Victory Youth from North Geelong, where he played in goal following stints with the Melbourne Knights in the Victorian Premier League and nearly a year in Croatia with powerhouse Dinamo Zagreb.

Wynne, a powerful defender with precise touch and vision, and LaVerde, an elegant midfielder with classy skills, both 18, have been signed from South Melbourne in the Victorian Premier League.

However LaVerde-s season may already be over following confirmation that the former VIS graduate injured his knee in a training mishap last week.

Behich, 17, is an energetic attacking midfielder whose exciting left foot was on display for Victorian Premier League side the Green Gully Cavaliers in a trial match against Victory earlier this month.

Foschini, 17, is a sturdy defensive midfielder from the Oakleigh Cannons in the Victorian Premier League and is the son of former Aussie Rules star Silvio Foschini.

DiLizia, 17, who captained the Qantas Joeys at last year-s International Youth Football Championship in Japan, trialled with Italian club AS Roma following the tournament and has represented Victory in several trial matches over the past two years.

At 16, Hatzikostas is the youngest of the group but has experience beyond his years, having played for Victory in friendly matches against China and Chinese Super League side Tianjin Teda last year and trialled with Greek side AEK Athens in 2006.

“We-ve selected quite a young side, but hopefully these players will develop over the next two years and will be knocking on the door of the senior team,” Durakovic added.

Durakovic, who made 64 appearances for Australia and played nearly 500 national league matches, was full of praise for the NYL, which will comprise of one team from each of the seven Australian Hyundai A-League clubs.

“Years ago, if these players didn-t go to the Australian Institute of Sport, they would go overseas or give up football and take up something else.

“Now, the NYL gives these players the opportunity to stay in Australia and work with a Hyundai A-League club, so it-s tremendous for them.

“I know it-s taken a while, but you-ve got to crawl before you walk and hopefully we-re heading in the right direction.”

Victory memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season are currently available from the Victory Shop, 236 Swan Street, Richmond, by calling 1300 GO MVFC or online by clicking here.