A-League: Hamza Sakhi makes loan move permanent

Melbourne City midfielder Hamza Sakhi intends on securing a long-term future with the A-League heavyweights after his transfer from French club Auxerre was made permanent on Thursday.

The Morocco-born 27-year-old had joined City on loan last August, but has impressed sufficiently to secure a contract until the end of next season.

And if Sakhi – who scored a memorable long-distance strike in his side’s 2-1 win over Western United last Sunday – has his way, he will be a City player for a lot longer.

“I’m feeling really comfortable here in Melbourne and can see myself staying here longer into the future,” said Sakhi, who after an uncertain start to his A-League career has come to terms with the “physical” nature of the competition.

“I didn’t expect the league to be as physical as it is. It’s a very different style of play to France so that took some time to adapt.

“Now I feel I’ve found my feet and have gotten used to that since early in the season.

“As a whole I feel the league deserves more credit because it is a very good league and every match is played at a high standard.”

Sakhi also enjoyed playing in the AFC Champions League for City and wants another chance to be part of Asia’s most prestigious club competition after his side failed to reach the knockout stages this season.

“The adventure there stopped too early and we were disappointed not to go further, but I really enjoyed playing in the competition and hope to get back there next season,” he said.

To do that, City must win a fourth successive A-League premiership.

After a slow start to the season, fourth-placed City’s campaign is gathering pace as they chase a third successive win in Friday night’s Unite Round clash against the Western Sydney Wanderers at CommBank Stadium.

“The last few games have been more of what we expect from ourselves,” Sakhi said.

“The start of the season was tough with so many new players in the squad and we didn’t get the results we wanted, but now we feel like we’re showing how good this team can be.”

The Wanderers – who on Friday announced that coach Marko Rudan had signed a three-year contract extension – are desperate to avoid a third defeat in four matches.
Despite his side’s recent inconsistency, Rudan was adamant that the Wanderers were “building something very special”.

“We have worked hard to build back some of that trust from the members and fans through instilling a DNA in the team that they can be proud of,” the former Wellington Phoenix and Western United coach said.

In Friday’s other Unite Round men’s fixture, Western United will hope to move off the bottom of the ladder, at least temporarily, by beating Macarthur FC, also at CommBank Stadium.

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