Clean Sheet – Covic a mainstay as Wanderers finish top
With the International duties done and dusted for the time being, it was back to the A-League final round, EPL and a FA Cup replay. As good as the battle for World Cup qualification is on the football calendar, the week in week out battle for the top four or avoiding relegation is far more entertaining in my humble opinion.
Turning to the A-League for a moment, and the sun has set on the regular season. Despite the tabloid papers continuing with negative stories on crowd behaviour and the like, the game has grown in popularity with the marque signings Alessandro Del Perio, Shinji Ono, Lucas Neil and Emile Heskey arriving on our shores from abroad. What has really impressed me is the number of young local players who have cut their teeth and are becoming household names both here and abroad in a market dominated by rugby league, union and AFL. All codes strive to claim the crown of the “greatest game in the world”, but to be honest they can all happily co-exist by working alongside each other to schedule games to ensure each sport grows or even cross pollinates every summer or winter.
Here are the interesting statistics for the lovers/admirers of the men in the six-yard box. Being in the unashamedly former category, I marvel at the talents of the often lonely and much maligned keeper so the figures don’t tend to surprise as much as raise my admiration after the hours of work put in plying their craft. A total of 20 keepers took to the pitch for over 24,208 minutes, making a combined 866 saves, conceding 369 goals while 14 of them managed 65 clean sheets between them. Most impressive stats, however if you asked most keepers they would tell you that it can always be improved on.
Ante Covic has been one of the standout keepers this season after heading back to the Western suburbs of Sydney to play his part in history with the Wanderers winning the Premiers’ Plate in their inaugural year. Covic has played every minute of every match this season and finished equal on top with 10 clean sheets with the Central Coast Mariners Matthew Ryan. As mentioned in an earlier edition of 'Clean Sheet' if the tally was tied at the end of the regular season, the prize will be awarded to the goalkeeper who has had the fewest goals conceded for the year. In retrospect given that Covic played four more games than Ryan I will be awarding him a consolation prize for his service to the #keepersunion. Congratulations to both keepers and I look forward to getting in contact to award your prizes. The winner Mathew Ryan will proudly receive a quality set of Manchester with the highest of thread counts. Look forward to posting a happy snap with Maty in receipt of one of the highest goal keeping honours in world football!
In the other clash Adelaide United takes on Brisbane Roar at Hindmarsh Stadium. The two teams met back in early March and it was the Roar who ran away with the points after a late Ben Halloran strike. The worrying sign for the Reds is that they have only won one of their last five matches while the Roar have only lost once. I know I’m little biased but momentum is a big card to carry into the finals and the experience of the Roar is well documented and could be the difference. The Wanderers and Mariners both earn a week off but both sides will be keen spectators to analyse their potential opponents for the following weekend.
A quick look at the EPL and I managed to get up early to watch one of Australia’s living legends, Mark Schwarzer play a massive role in putting the sword to relegation favourites QPR. His penalty save off Loic Remy was vintage Schwarzer as well as his “Inspector Gadget” grab later in the match. Chelsea keeper Petr Cech’s amazing form continued in the FA Cup reply with one of the saves of the year. His giant hand helped his side to move one match closer from a return to Wembley. David De Gea recorded his ninth clean sheet in Manchester United’s win over Sunderland, while City’s Joe Hart streaked ahead of the competition with his 14th clean sheet in 30 games.
That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll will take a look at the Champions League keepers and how the cream is rising to the top, A-League finals action and then round it out with all the keeping news in the English Premier League.
Football Quote of the Week
"I couldn’t settle in Italy – it was like living in a foreign country."Ian Rush, (ex-Liverpool) when asked how he enjoyed his time at Juventus
Poor Ian could really have used Google Maps back then!
Yours in football and “KEEPING it real”.
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