Melbourne Victory nabs Thai defender

Surat Sukha, the 26-year-old Thai international defender, is on his way to Melbourne Victory after agreeing to a two-year deal with the Hyundai A-League champions.

Surat Sukha, the 26-year-old Thai international defender, is on his way to Melbourne Victory after agreeing to a two-year deal with the Hyundai A-League champions.

On the day when Carlos Hernandez agreed to a three-year-deal to stay with the club, it was announced that Surat, who plays for Thai powerhouse Chonburi FC, would join the club.

Surat is a versatile defender, who can play either on the left side of defence or midfield, and impressed against Melbourne Victory in two Asian Champions League matches in 2008.

Victory operations manager Gary Cole said Surat was a good fit for the Melbourne side and would help fill the gap left by the departures of Michael Thwaite and Seb Ryall.

"It's another fantastic pick-up. Ernie (Merrick) and Aaron (Healey) went to watch Surat play for Thailand against New Zealand recently. Ernie also took an afternoon away during his recent holiday to watch his club side Chonburi play in Vietnam," Cole said.

"He's a 26-year-old very versatile player who has played in 75 Thai Premier League games, 15 times for his country, 15 times in the Asian Champions League and the AFC Cup and becomes our plus-one player in the Asian Champions League for next year."

Under ACL rules, clubs can have three international players in their squad plus one player from another Asian nation.

Surat's arrival adds to the cosmopolitan flavour of the Victory, who now have two Costa Ricans, a Brazilian, a New Zealander and a Thai in their squad. Scottish-born Grant Brebner is now a naturalised Australian.

Merrick said Surat's flexibility in terms of the position he plays makes him a real asset to the club.

"With the number of games we have to play, if players are one-position players, it makes life very difficult for a coach. We like to select players who can play in a range of positions. We look for attributes rather than where they are playing with their teams now," Merrick said.

"Rody (Vargas) came as a full-back, is now a centre back, Kevin Muscat has played in a few different positions, Billy Celeski, we saw his attributes as a defensive, creative midfielder. We have profiles of what we are looking for and most of these players can play a range of positions and it's a huge asset for us."

Surat's twin brother Suree played against Australia in the 2007 Asian Cup, and had a brief stint at Manchester City when former Thai prime minister Thaksin Chinawatra owned the club.