The A-League’s quiet achievers

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Every season the A-League’s biggest names astound their way into the headlines but out of the limelight are a handful of players who frankly could do with a bigger slice of the media pie.

League stars like Adrian Mierzejewski, Dimitri Petratos and Milos Ninkovic are the drawcards for a reason, they are brilliant players after all, but plying alongside them are those blue collar effort sort of footballers that tend to slip under the radar despite week in week out admirable performances.

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They won’t win the Johnny Warren medal, but they are nevertheless important cogs in a team’s workings. This season has produced a number of notable names which fall into this category.

When Sydney FC trounced Western Sydney Wanderers for the second time last round a majority of the praise rightfully fell onto Mierzejewski and Bobo: the duo were practically faultless during the game. However when that focus is on the midfield it’s often easy to forget just how impressive the Sky Blues have been in defence this season.

Alex Wilkinson has been an unsung hero at the back this season for Sydney FC. His rock solid efforts in defence even sparked a push for Socceroos selection from Graham Arnold following their four-goal demolition of Wellington Phoenix.

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It’s a similar story at Newcastle Jets. When Petratos, Andrew Nabbout and Roy O’Donovan are slotting goals at their fancy, the reports don’t often have the space to praise Nikolai Topor Stanley and Daniel Georgievski in the same way.

At Western Sydney Wanderers, Raul Llorente is proving to be one of the A-League’s most refined fullbacks in recent years, but is often faded out by his fellow countryman and marquee Oriol Riera. It’s not to say Riera shouldn’t be in the spotlight, but it would be a pleasant change to see pundits and reporters promote a few less household names and broaden interest in players that otherwise would go undiscussed.

These players seem to continue going about their business but are more than worthy of a greater share of the praise. Earning that time in the sun is particularly important for the league’s younger players who often find themselves victims of a flavour of the month situation. The aura of hype builds and all eyes fall on a youngster, and if they make the most of that spotlight it immediately puts them into contention for an international call-up in the not too distant future.

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As a result when one player is on the watch list other high achievers can be overlooked. Youngsters such as Daniel Leck for Brisbane Roar and Stefan Mauk for Melbourne City are stuck on the fringes of media attention for the time being, yet have already proven to be highly valuable Australian footballing talents. It would be great to see the Daniel Arzani discussion expanded to such players.

Considering the influence of these lesser known players also allows deeper and more comprehensive coverage of A-League clubs and players to a general viewing public who are looking to further their interests beyond the marquees and big names.

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Rowan McClatchey
Rowan McClatchey
Bachelor of Journalism student from the University of Wollongong, covering Western Sydney Wanderers for the 2017/18 season.

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