Necevski has inside running to be Mariners' first-choice goalkeeper

Ivan Necevski has been busting a gut to keep the dream alive and at 36 years of age, he is poised to make a stunning return to a starting position in the A-League with Central Coast Mariners.


Source: Central Coast Mariners Twitter

The word out of the Mariners camp is that, at this stage, Necevski is in pole position to be first-choice goalkeeper for the A-League kick-off, ahead of Paul Izzo and Tom Heward-Belle.

And, despite his advancing years, the veteran goalkeeper wouldn’t look out of place in the competition when you consider Melbourne City’s Thomas Sorensen is 40 and Adelaide United’s Eugene Galekovic and Brisbane Roar’s Michael Theo are each 35.

Plus, Ante Covic was still playing in the A-League at 40 last season, for Perth Glory.

Necevski warmed the bench at Sydney FC last season and did not get on the field at all, with preferred starter Vedran Janjetovic playing every match.

Janjetovic and Necevski had battled for the starting spot for several years previously, but Janjetovic had become the first pick in the last two seasons, under coach Graham Arnold.

Necevski was released by the Sky Blues at the end of last season and the chances of him continuing at A-League level were obviously under threat, but he got an opportunity with the Mariners and played in their recent FFA Cup Round of 32 clash with Green Gully, with Izzo on the bench.

The World Game has been told Necevski has since continued to impress with his performances and attitude at training.

Necevski, who last year slotted in a short spell with NSW NPL side Rockdale City Suns as well, has no doubt he is still up to A-League level.

"I’m getting on with what I have to do to be ready to play," Necevski told The World Game.

"I’m physically fit and I can play for a long, long time to come.

"Goalkeepers like myself, Ante Covic, Thomas Sorensen, Eugene Galekovic and Michael Theo have been in the game for a very long time, because we keep working at it and we’ve got that experience.

"I haven’t played too much over the last couple of years, but I’ve got a lot of experience and I’ve been involved with big teams and played Asian Champions League and stuff like that, so hopefully I can bring that experience to the Mariners and we can be successful together."

The only problem at the Mariners is that they currently don’t have a coach.


Tony Walmsley was recently sacked and the club is yet to appoint a replacement, although it is understood they have narrowed it down to a short-list of six candidates.

Necevski said he just had to keep working hard for the rest of the coaching staff and make sure he impressed the new coach when he is appointed.

"I think it’s going to be an open slate not just for the goalkeepers, but for all the players in general when the new coach comes in," he said.

"Hutch (assistant coach John Hutchinson) and the other staff members have taken over and done really well to keep all the boys together and everyone is in shape, so when the new coach comes in it will be an easier transition for him.

"Obviously Hutch and the coaching staff will report back to the new coach regarding how everyone is training and how they’ve been playing, and there will be footage there of the games we have played.

"And when the new coach comes in he’ll have to make those tough decisions on selections, based on all the information he has got.

"I’ve worked hard and hopefully I’ve done enough to be number one, but, like I said, at the end of the day it will be up to the coach, whenever he comes in.

"You’ve got to be ready so that when he does come in you can show him what you’ve got.

"We’re all working hard together and everyone’s getting the best out of each other, so the most important thing at the moment is that we’re still preparing well as a team.”

Necevski has played for many clubs at different levels and experienced plenty of coaching upheavals before.

"I was at Sydney FC for nine years and went through four or five coaching changes there," Necevski said.

"So I can speak from experience when I say the most important thing while all of that is going on is for the boys to stick together and stay tight-knit, instead of going off in little groups of two or three.

"But we are tight-knit and the boys who have come in, including myself, have settled in really well and been really welcomed by everyone at the club.

"We can’t really expect anything more to be done for us, because everything has been done. It’s been great."

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5 min read
Published 20 August 2016 at 12:28pm
By Greg Prichard