Soccer: Melbourne City double header showcases new faces and the perfect team

Melbourne City fans will get a double dose of their team on Monday when the men’s and women’s sides line up at AAMI Park for an Australia Day weekend double header.

But they might find themselves needing a player list to identify the newcomers for John van ‘t Schip’s side, who entertain Wellington Phoenix in the evening after Joe Montemurro’s W-League Premiers host Brisbane in the W-League final earlier in the afternoon.

Such has been the revolving door at City during the January transfer window that even club officials might be hard pressed to put names to faces over the next few days.

Stefan Mauk, the Olyroo midfielder, is the latest through the City Football Academy departure lounge. The youngster is moving back to his hometown of Adelaide, with Reds defender Osama Malik coming to Victoria in a straight swap.

Malik is due to train with his new teammates on Sunday, but whether he will be considered as a starter against Wellington remains to be seen.

One man who is likely to be given a chance is City’s new midfielder, Anthony Caceres, whose move from Central Coast provoked plenty of questions from rival clubs.

A-League teams are forbidden from selling players to each other, but City circumvented that rule through the agency of their parent company, English Premier League giant Manchester City, who bought Caceres for a reported $300,000 and then simply loaned him back to their subsidiary.

City has lost several other players in this window.

Marquee man Robi Koren, who has been a major disappointment during his time at the club, has gone. The former Slovenian captain agreed to a mutual termination of his contract and settled on a payout to leave early  before it expired at the end of the season.

Right at the start of the window back-up goalkeeper Tando Velaphi went, moving to Japan, to be replaced by ex-Western Sydney shot stopper Dean Bouzanis.

And last week striker David Williams, who had been with the club since its early days, also left. He had initially been touted as a partner in the swap deal with Adelaide for Malik, but turned that down and is now moving back to Europe.

City women have dominated their competition,  winning every game this season.

They put that 100 per cent record on the line in the semi against Brisbane and, as star player Jess Fishlock said during the week, are determined not to slip up at this stage of the campaign.

Nevertheless Fishlock, who is on loan to City from American club Seattle Reign, says nothing can be taken for granted as finals football brings its own challenges and other teams lift against City, who are standard bearers for the way the women’s game should progress.

“I think the standard here is developing.  It needs a focus point now from Australia as a whole … they have been very focused on the Matildas over the last 18 months to two years. They have had the Asia Cup, World Cup and the Olympics, so that is completely understandable.

“But the future of the Matildas is built around the domestic league, that’s where they are going to get the players from. They really have to push the W-League forward now and keep it developing.”

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