After a disappointing 2015 campaign where they were eliminated convincingly in the Quarter Finals by Carlton FC, Melbourne United player Mohammed Idris says this time around they are out to win the tournament; but the trophy is not the only thing the Eritrean side want to take from the boys from Carlton.
A number of Carlton FC players played for Melbourne United in the Oromo Tournament after last summer’s ASFA tournament, including Eritrean players Mohammed Mohammed and Abdullah Okud. United are not satisfied with keeping these players on their roster part time, and are in negotiations with them to have them make their move a permanent one, starting with the upcoming ASFA tournament.
The move would be a very surprising one considering the previous success these players have had with Carlton and their motivation to move could be narrowed down to either a wanting for a different challenge or a feeling of patriotism playing for a team run by people of their same cultural background.
For now we can only speculate whether or not Okud and co will be playing for United or Carlton this season, it is currently unknown. What is not unknown however, is the impact these players would have on this United side if they did in fact make their move a permanent one.
On the field, these players have exhibited wonderful skill, speed and power, as well as playing with the creativity that United so desperately needed to unlock resilient defences last time around. Their presence in the squad will also create more competition for spots, not just in the friendlies but also in the tournament, which could very well bring out the best in the other players who were considered to have under-performed in the 2015 edition of this tournament.
These players have experienced winning the ASFA tournament and know what it takes to go all the way, and that is a crucial thing to bring to the table to a team that will accept nothing less than winning the cup. This experience is something that no player in last summer’s Eritrean team boasted, so these players would be very well received in that aspect of things.
One person from Melbourne United’s 2015 side that did have experience in winning the tournament was their now ex-coach, Yusuf Ashkaray. The former North Melbourne coach was told his services were no longer required at United after having falling outs with the captain and several players over the course of last summer.
United have called on the services of Mohamed Hakim, a decision which has been well received by the players. The Eritrean coach will hope that he can instill a better culture at the club than his predecessor and can maintain a great relationship with his players, something that Ashkaray was unable to do.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Melbourne United manage to build the squad they want going into ASFA 2016. With less than 3 months to go before the opening game kicks off, trials have began and both Junior and Senior teams are beginning to take shape; so even if United do end up acquiring their local stars, it is still unclear who they will be lining up alongside.
More to come.
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