Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Melbourne City prepare for off-season shake-up

Safuwan Baharudin (left) is one of the Melbourne City players who will be out of contract at the end of the season. Photo: Melbourne City

Melbourne City are just weeks away from a massive off-season cull that will help shape their charge for the 2015/16 A-League title.

As many as 11 players have unclear futures at the club and could leave City following the finals campaign.

And it's the group that has spearheaded City's run to the finals that hang in the balance.

Of the 14 players who contributed in City's bright 0-0 draw with Wellington on Sunday, six have no contracts for next season.

Goalkeeper Tando Velaphi, veteran stopper Kew Jaliens, utility players Safuwan Baharudin, Paulo Retre and Jonatan Germano, as well as recently arrived French winger Harry Novillo aren't tied down.

The six are joined by five others in an "Out of Contract XI" which would prove a handful for many A-League clubs.

Apart from Robi Koren, all of the club's designated overseas visa players are coming out of contract, giving coach John van `t Schip great flexibility as he looks to build a squad to challenge for next season's premiership.

With just two rounds remaining before the club's finals campaign, made certain by Perth Glory's expulsion, the Dutch coach said he was putting off decisions on whom to cull and whom to keep until season's end.

"It's important, you don't decide it in one day," he said. "We're talking about it and we're looking at it.

"At the moment it's not having our biggest thoughts, we're focussing on the football side on the pitch.

"There's time enough in a few weeks... because then we can really sit down and make decisions that we think are going to hopefully benefit for next year."

Club captain Patrick Kisnorbo was also understood to be out of contract at season's end until van `t Schip revealed the defender had secured another year by passing a trigger-point in his deal.

Kisnorbo hasn't missed an A-League match this season in his best campaign with the club.

The impending shake-up could play out in different ways among the playing group.

Looming unemployment could spur individuals to perform well on the pitch, hoping to earn a new deal.

Or the uncertainty could get to others, putting in lacklustre effort if they feel the die is cast.

With the club on a five-game unbeaten streak, it certainly hasn't affected City thus far.


Forwards: Damien Duff, Mate Dugandzic, Harry Novillo.

Midfield: Jonatan Germano, Massimo Murdocca, Iain Ramsay.

Defenders: Paulo Retre, Rob Wielaert, Kew Jaliens, Safuwan Baharudin.

GK: Tando Velaphi

Safuwan Baharudin

Time is running out for Lions international defender Safuwan Baharudin overseas stint - his loan deal with A-League side Melbourne City Football Club (MCFC) is expected to wrap up this month. 

Melbourne City FC says whether or not Safuwan Baharudin continues to play for them depends on negotiations with their football department and coaching staff.

A Football Association of Singapore (FAS) spokesperson has also confirmed potential talks: "Now that MCFC has qualified for the play-offs, it is likely that they will commence discussions with us over an extension of the loan agreement."


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