Home sweet home: marquee man Carle to cement his place in Sydney

Nicky Carle's agent, Tony Rallis, caught up with Sydney FC chief executive Dirk Melton last Friday, and we're sure the subject of Carle's marquee contract came up.

Carle still has 18 months left on the deal - worth an estimated $650,000 a season - and the way the former Sydney Olympic man is playing, we wouldn't be surprised if cash-rich Asian clubs wanted to test the Sky Blues' resolve.

However, Carle couldn't be more settled in Sydney, and said he plans to stay with the Sky Blues for ''as long as I can''.

''I've bought some land out near Liverpool, and we're going to build the family home on that,'' he said. ''Sydney is home, and I love it here. The club is brilliant. I can't see myself going any time soon.

''It would have to be a pretty amazing offer from abroad to tempt me. I'm pretty settled and certainly not looking to go anywhere.''

PHOENIX STRIKING OUT

Not all is well at Wellington Phoenix. The new owners, the Welnix consortium, are reportedly unhappy with the team's sluggish start to the season, especially its inability to hit the back of the net. Chris Greenacre and short-term US signing Alex Smith are the club's only fit strikers as Paul Ifill and Mirjan Pavlovic are still out injured. The Phoenix have scored just five goals all season, and the new board is getting restless. All the visa places are taken at the Phoenix but the club is furiously scouring the ranks of the local leagues of Australia and New Zealand for another short-term solution.

TECHNICAL PROBLEMS

Sydney FC's hunt for a technical director rolls on but we understand they're no closer to making a decision. A final call is still a few weeks away, and applications of interest have continued to roll in. Former Central Coast Mariners boss Lawrie McKinna has publicly expressed an interest in the role, likewise Argentine legend Abel Balbo, but the Herald understands neither will make the final shortlist. It's likely the role will also mix a technical position with a football general manager role.

MARINER TO SET SAIL

Central Coast Mariners striker Michael Baird could be one of the first foreigners to play in Malaysia after the local FA lifted a ban on overseas players. He's been trialling with Sabah in northern Borneo and is expected to have sealed a deal by Monday. The bright spot for the Mariners is his departure would free significant funds for the club to purchase a new striker.

SOCCEROOS OVERLOOKED

Despite finishing as runner-up in the Asian Cup, no Australian players were nominated for the Asian Player of the Year award. Here's the list of nominees: Andranik Teymourian, Hadi Aghily (Iran), Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa (Japan), Koo

Ja-cheol, Yeom

Ki-hun (South Korea), Mohammed Noor (Saudi Arabia), Server Djeparov (Uzbekistan), Ismaeel Abdullatif (Bahrain) and Ismail Matar (UAE). We're tipping Kagawa, who has starred with Dortmund in the Bundesliga, as the man to beat.

WHERE CAHILL HAILS

Former French under-21 international Marama Vahirua was named Oceania player of the year in 2005 by virtue of his Tahitian parentage. In 1995 and 1998, New Caledonia-born Christian Karembeu won despite representing France. What we want to know is: could Tim Cahill, by virtue of his Samoan heritage (a nation he represented at under-18 level) also win? He's actually won the award before - in 2004 - when Australia was part of Oceania. We're awaiting a response from the OFC.

Twitter: @sebth

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