20. VEDRAN JANJETOVIC
If you were to ask Vedran Janjetovic where he saw his future
in football 10 years ago, he would have said in-existent. In 2005,
Janjetovic was diagnosed with a nerve injury that affected the movement from
both of his arms down to his fingers. Much of the goalkeeper’s rehabilitation
time revolved around playing PlayStation, strengthening the movement in his
fingers. The Sydney FC goalkeeper is currently the most inform shot stopper
this season, managing 6 clean sheets from 12 games. Janjetovic has been a major
asset in Sydney’s defensive resurgence, stabilizing what once was a rocky back four.
“It was well documented that we had problems with our defence
last year, we got a lot of stick for that and the number of goals we conceded,
so it’s been a major focus to fix that this year”
Sydney FC currently shares the best goal defence in the
A-League, along with cross-town rivals Western Sydney Wanderers.
Janjetovic has hit the peak of his career, and hopes to lead
Sydney FC to another grand final and Asian Champions League success.
19. JAMES MEREDITH
Despite Meredith’s recent rise to Socceroos selection, don’t
mistake the 27 year old left back for an overnight success story.
Nothing came easy for Meredith, who spent most of his youth
fighting for selection in England’s second tier of football. With over 100 games
for Bradford City in League one, Meredith has marked his ground as a respected
defender in the league.
The left back has shone for Bradford this season as a regular
starter, and was rewarded with a spot for the Socceroos in November against Kyrgyzstan.
Meredith is a pacey left back, who
can provide as an attacking threat out wide. The quick witted defender was
dangerous for the Socceroos providing great service to his forwards.
The growth Meredith has shown since being released by Derby
City in 2007 has been phenomenal. Ange Postecoglou explained that Meredith’s
selection has been in the making for a long time.
Meredith (we) pretty much started tracking when I first saw Mass Luongo. So
it’s been a two year process. There are other players I’m doing that with right
now; they’re probably not on the radar now but could be if they continue to
make an impression.”
Meredith’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed, remaining under
the close eye of Championship sides Brighton, Wolves and Reading for the
January transfer window.
18. STEFAN MAUK
Stefan Mauk has been a rising star for Melbourne City this
season. The 20 year old was overlooked last season, managing only three
appearances, all coming from the bench.
The attacking midfielder has had a stellar season so far, and
currently sits as the fifth highest scorer in the A-League along with two assists.
The youngster’s first opportunity came in round 2 against
Melbourne Victory in the cross-town derby. Mauk came on as a substitute, providing
an assist for Bruno Fornaroli before scoring an equalizer in a stand-out
Mauk is learning from one of the best ball providers in the A-League- Aaron Mooy. The
youngster doesn’t shy away from the big moments, scoring again in this month’s
return derby against Melbourne Victory. His ability to find the net and also
provide service to Fornaroli and Novillo makes him a massive asset to
Melbourne City’s attacking arsenal.
Mauk’s stellar end to the year has earned himself selection for
Under-23’s Olyroos side. He will be part of Aurelio Vidmars squad, who will
travel to Qatar in strive of Olympic Qualification in Rio 2016.
The youngster has a bright future ahead of him, and could be
a significant figure for the Socceroos in the future.
17. JOSH RISDON
Josh Risdon has been touted as one of the most promising young
Australian footballers. The Perth Glory defender is arguably the best full back
in the A-League after finishing the 2014-15 season with the most tackles in the
Risdon’s rise to prominence began in 2011-12, where he
stamped his spot as a regular starter for Perth Glory, recording 24 appearances
at only 19 years of age.
The 23 year old made his first Socceroos appearance against
Bangladesh this year, after attracting selection from manager Ange Postecoglou.
The local boy from Western Australia has persisted for his spot the Glory, where many other Western Australians made their name elsewhere.
Risdon’s ability to read the play and shut dangerous attackers
out of the game is first class. His speed allows him to make forward runs from
full back, without getting caught on the break.
The media tend to shy away from Perth when it comes to promising players, which is why Risdon has been ignored for so long. The young Socceroo
has now forced them to write about him, with his day in day out performances in
Risdon could be set to leave Perth at the end of this
season, and take his career to the next level in one of Europe’s top leagues.
16. MATTHEW SPIRANOVIC
The last two years of Matthew Spiranovic’s career has been a
testament to his hard work. The tall centre back joined fellow Socceroo Tim Cahill
in the Chinese Super League, after personal success in the Asian Cup and for
the Western Sydney Wanderers this year.
The big man now plays for Hangzhou Greentown FC, appearing 9 times and scoring one goal since his signing in July.
“Spira” is known for his ability to muscle strikers out of
the game. His strength in the air allows him to clear attacking threats, as
well as providing them on the opposite end.
The 27 year old has an unstoppable engine that seems to
never run out of fuel.
Spiranovic is one of the most gifted Australian centre backs,
and has been rewarded with regular international starts for the Socceroos.
By Ari Charilaou (He’s also on twitter here) –
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