Victory's generation next

Melbourne Victory's upcoming AFC Champions League campaign may prove to be the farewell tour for the likes of Kevin Muscat and Robbie Kruse, but the bright future of the club will also be on display with new signings Tando Velaphi and Isaka Cernak determined to prove that they will be able to fill the void.

Melbourne Victory's upcoming AFC Champions League campaign may prove to be the farewell tour for the likes of Kevin Muscat and Robbie Kruse, but the bright future of the club will also be on display with new signings Tando Velaphi and Isaka Cernak determined to prove that they will be able to fill the void.

Velaphi, 23, and Cernak, 21, both have considerable experience in the Hyundai A-League with Velaphi having been the first-choice keeper at Perth for the better part of three seasons and Cernak having played 29 games firstly for Brisbane Roar and then North Queensland Fury.

Victory's reputation as not only the A-League's most successful club, but also as one of the best for developing young talent, is what drove both players to Melbourne.

"Obviously for a youngster like myself, it-s always good to come to a big club, and be in the spotlight a lot more. I'm going to have to work for my spot. Whether that be playing or on the bench. I just want to embrace the whole experience over here," Velaphi said.

The path from Melbourne Victory to further success is well worn for the club's keepers, with Eugene Galekovic, Michael Theoklitos and Mitchell Langerak all going on to bigger things.

Langerak's progression is the most noteworthy, having played just half a season of regular football in the A-League before being picked up by German club Borussia Dortmund.

For Velaphi, his move to Melbourne is also about correcting a reputation for erratic performances, a dangerous thing for any keeper to be stigmatised with.

"I think I've developed over the years. Everybody makes mistakes and I've made my share. I think the last season I've progressed and I've come to a club where I think I can work on my game and become a better player. I'm looking forward to the challenge over here," he said.

"I hope I can prove it to those people who doubt me. I'm confident that I can do a job over here."

Like Langerak offers an example for Velaphi, Kruse, who has signed on to play the ACL, offers a path for Cernak to follow.

Eighteen months ago, Kruse arrived in Melbourne with his career at the crossroads. Now he is one of the hottest properties in the country having performed well for Australia at the Asian Cup, and is destined for a move to Europe in June.

"If you look at the qualities (Cernak's got), he loves to turn and run at people. They are the one-on-one skills that we identified in Robbie Kruse," Victory football manager Gary Cole said.

The comparison with Kruse is one Cernak is comfortable with, having spent his formative years at the same school.

"I grew up with him. He was a year older than me. So everything he did, I've always tried to follow. Without realising it, I've done all the representative stuff a year after him," he said.

"Seeing him doing so well is brilliant. I know how good he is. He was given the opportunity to play here and he has taken it with both hands. That's a massive reason why I've come down here."

For Cernak, the move to Melbourne is the realisation of a long-held ambition.

"This has always been my favourite club. Even when I was at AIS, Melbourne was the club I always watched," he said. "Having the opportunity to come down here was all the motivation I need. What a stadium we have, what support, everything down here is first class."

Meanwhile, the club have confirmed that Rodrigo Vargas and Bill Celeski have re-signed, Vargas for one year and Celeski for two. They join names such as Matthew Kemp, Ton Pondeljak and Matthew Foschini to re-commit in recent weeks.