Jets on trail of Khalfallah, Austin in new Victory raid

Rebuilding Newcastle Jets look set to continue their raid on Melbourne Victory's playing ranks, with both Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Mitch Austin on their wanted list.

Fahid Ben Khalfallah

Melbourne Victory's Fahid Ben Khalfallah Source: Getty Images

Hot on the heels of snaring Victory defender Daniel Georgievski for next season, the club in grave danger of landing the A-League wooden spoon are deep in negotiations with 34-year-old Victory winger Khalfallah.

The Tunisian trickster is off contract and Jets football operations manager Joel Griffiths said talks were on-going, in a statement of intent from Chinese owner Martin Lee who is willing to spend big to turn the club around after another season of hurt on the Hunter.

Austin, 24, has one more season remaining on his Victory contract and Griffiths was coy on the Jets' intentions regarding him.

But the winger has been out of favour after a bright start to life beyond the Central Coast, and has started just three of Victory's last 10 games.

Newcastle imports Morten Nordstrand, Mateo Poljak and Ma Leilei, are among 11 players coming off contract.

Addressing the on-going interest in Khalfallah, who has been immersed in an ongoing contract saga with Victory management, Griffiths said the Jets wouldn't be rushing into things when it comes to filling their visa spots.

"He's a player we are really keen on but we only have so many (visa) spots available and we have to make sure through circumstances who will stay and who will go," he said.

"The last time we spoke with him, we decided to take a wait-and-see approach.

"There have been discussions but nothing concrete yet.

"In the situation we are in we have to make sure we get things right... so we're going to take more time than normal, rather than rushing in to things.

"He's starting in the team that's coming second and he could go to any team and bring something."

Asked about the apparent pursuit of Austin, Griffiths said: "He has another year with Victory and unless things change he remains their player."

One signature the Jets are confident of nabbing is that of Roy O'Donovan, with the club closing in on the capture of the Irish striker from the Mariners.

"I am confident he will come to the Jets. He's a player whose goals speak for themselves and he has a bit of an aura about him," Griffiths declared.

"Signing him would be a big step forward."

Griffiths made it clear the finances are in place to make certain the club that has crashed and burned under rookie coach Mark Jones this season are far more competitive in 2017-2018.

"The visa players that we bring in have to have some sort of X-factor, and have to be better than what we've got," he added.

"I feel this year they lacked in that respect, so it's vital to do our homework and research and find that Diego Castro-like player that everybody is after."

The Jets have been linked with Perth Glory's Spanish magician but Griffiths added that may be more "fairytale" than fact.

"I'd like to think we can find our own Castro through research and due diligence," he said.

"There's a lot of work ahead and a big off-season for the Jets, and hopefully we'll be pushing for a finals spot next year.

"Martin Lee has been great... obviously he's upset with how the season has gone but he also knows that sometimes you have to go backwards to take three steps forward."

A Jets legend on the field, Griffiths has suffered as much as the fans from recent humiliations.

But he's determined to play his role in turning the club's fortunes around.


"It's a challenge but not one I am about to walk away from... I'm really excited about the future," he says.

"I feel we can get the right players in, players who are sought after by other clubs and have an aura about them.

"Martin Lee has allocated the money, but we only want players who will add something."

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Have a story or comment? Contact Us

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Watch nowOn Demand
Follow SBS Sport
4 min read
Published 13 April 2017 at 6:44pm