|By DOUG BOOTH
Mehmet Durakovic believes he can still be a successful A-League coach.
Twelve months after being sacked as coach of Melbourne Victory, Durakovic is convinced he has what it takes to succeed at Australia's elite level.
Durakovic, who has returned to football after accepting an appointment as senior technical director at Victorian Premier League club South Melbourne, said his 12-month break from the sport had helped reignite his passion for the game.
The former Australia international played 231 games for South Melbourne in two stints and is a member of the club's team of the century but, in an exclusive interview with Goal.com, he admitted he still hopes an A-League club will recognise his abilities and coming calling.
"I loved being at Victory. They gave me a chance to coach the youth and senior teams and I loved doing it," Durakovic said.
"I have plenty of fun memories. I can’t blame anyone else for what happened. Just myself."
Durakovic was caretaker coach at the Victory in 2011 after the axing of Ernie Merrick, before being appointed to the position on a full-time basis for the 2011-12 season. After seven months in the job, he was sacked in January 2012 when Victory - despite the high-profile signing of Harry Kewell - had won only three of its first 14 games of the campaign.
He said he and his family were still enthusiastic supporters of the Victory and were regulars at most home games.
"It does hurt. I would have liked more time in charge but that is impossible if you do not get results," Durakovic said.
And the former defender, who was capped 64 times for the Socceroos and also had spells at Sydney Olympic and Gippsland Falcons in the now-defunct National Soccer League, revealed he would welcome the chance to coach Victory again if the opportunity ever arose.
"When I left, I left as friends. I shook hands with [owner] Anthony Di Pietro and [general manager] Richard Wilson," Durakovic said.
"I left on a good note. I have no regrets with the three years I spent at Victory.
"Hopefully, I will get another opportunity with an A-League club. People say, 'You are not a good coach until you have been sacked'," he joked.
He said his friendship with Victory coach Ange Postecoglou, assistant Kevin Muscat and football operations manager Paul Trimboli was solid, with its roots centred on those heady days with South Melbourne in the late 1990s.
"I have spoken to Ange once or twice on the phone and wished him all the best," Durakovic said.
"Ange is a nice guy and a wonderful footballer who suffered a bad knee injury which threw him into coaching early.
"He has done his apprenticeship from an early age and deserves the success he is having."
Durakovic believes Victory are strong contenders for this season's title. It takes time to implement your philosophy and the way you want the team to play.
"Once you are given that time, anything's possible," he said.
"I knew Ange would get Victory going - there was no doubt in my mind."
Meanwhile, Durakovic is relishing his return to grass-roots football with South Melbourne.
"My role is to implement the national football curriculum," he said.
"We have 280 kids from Under-7s to Under-18s at South Melbourne. I see this full-time opportunity as the next best thing if you are not involved in the A-League."