He’s fast becoming one of City’s cult figures, despite only playing 15 matches out of 25 this season, but in-form goalkeeper Tando Velaphi says it’s all a team effort as the Club continues to strengthen defensively.
City’s recent defensive form has seen the club extend its current unbeaten streak to five games, conceding just one goal in the process and finishing its home season with a nine-match undefeated streak at AAMI Park with six wins and three draws on home soil.
- The City stopper has helped secure eight clean sheets in 15 appearances in 2014/15
- Velaphi has conceded one goal during an unbeaten streak of five matches
- Finals not on players’ minds with two crucial clashes remaining in regular season
- Velaphi praises facilities at the City Football Academy, Melbourne, in second-half of the season
- Melbourne faces a difficult trip to Western Australia to face Velaphi’s former club Perth Glory
- Two matches against Perth and Adelaide United remain for City to secure Finals Series berth
- City sit sixth with 35 points, four ahead of Brisbane Roar who play Wednesday night
During that streak at home the Club has conceded just three goals, which equates to a goal every 270 minutes, with Velaphi’s performances central to the team’s current form.
In the club’s pulsating 0-0 draw with Wellington Phoenix on Sunday, Velaphi produced a crucial save from Nathan Burns’ 16th-minute penalty, but the custodian is refusing to take credit for the team’s form.
“You can’t always put a finger on it [the improved form] but I think in [recent] matches we have been sticking to our strengths and defending really well and staying compact and taking our opportunities when they arise,” Velaphi said on Wednesday.
“We work on that as a unit, the back four and even the midfield, [and] it starts from the top. That’s something we’ve really knuckled down on in the second half of the season and going forward we’ve looked threatening with many chances.
“So if we can continue to do that I think that will put us in a really good position.”
With two matches remaining in the regular season, City are presented with challenging away trips to Perth and Adelaide and Velaphi believes that the focus will be solely on collecting maximum points in those matches, as opposed to looking beyond to a potential Finals Series berth.
“We have two games that we really need to concentrate on before we get ahead of ourselves so this week is Perth and we really want to put in a good performance; it’s never easy away from home but we’ll work on it this week and make sure we put our best foot forward.
“We concentrate on what we can control… we’re five games unbeaten and we want to continue that and get as many points on the board as we can and what happens after that is up to the people at the top.
“We want to concentrate on one week at a time – the old cliché – but that’s really how it is.”
Velaphi admitted that if the team qualifies for the Finals Series then tests against Perth and Adelaide will be ideal preparation for the finals.
“Perth and Adelaide don’t get too much tougher than that in terms of away games so it’s going to be really good preparation for us in terms of [finals].
"It’s never easy playing away games in the finals, but I think if we can have this preparation leading into the finals and really get our minds focused on that… it will lead us well into the finals.”
When asked, Velaphi said that the the Club's newly-established training base at the City Football Academy could be one of the factors in the team's recent form.
"When you walk into work every day and you see the pitches and the facilities, you want to get the best out of yourself every day.
“I think subconsciously it has helped the team a lot, the team vibe and we’re really enjoying using the facilities here and I think we are very lucky to have that. We don’t take it for granted and we realise that when we’re here, we’re here to work.