Wellington Phoenix veteran Andrew Durante has heaped praise on goalkeeper Filip Kurto’s standout performances in the Hyundai A-League.
Kurto, 27, signed for the Phoenix following six seasons in Holland, and he spent three years before that between the sticks for Wisla Krakow.
His experience in Europe has helped steady the Wellington ship, and it has not gone unnoticed by Durante.
“He’s brilliant, he’s been outstanding since coming here,” he said.
“As a shot-stopper, I’d say [he’s] one of the best in the competition.
“He’s brave, he makes himself big when coming out for balls, and it gives the backline a heap of confidence that if you do get beaten, [players] still have to get past him.
“I thought against City he was brilliant, he pulled off some magic saves.
“He’s going to be important for us, I think any side that’s got ambitions to be successful has a keeper that can win them games, keep them in games, so he’s going to be vital for us.”
Durante and co. may just call upon Kurto once more as Wellington host Adelaide United at Westpac Stadium in Saturday's rebel Female Football Round clash.
Durante, 36, believes his side are well-prepared for the threats Adelaide pose.
“When you analyse them they’ve got a lot pace out wide, obviously [Craig] Goodwin and [Ben] Halloran are having good seasons so far, so we’ve identified them,” he said.
“Isaias is a good player, too, so if we can stop those guys, it’ll go a long way to us winning.
“But at home we want to be attacking, we want to be positive, we want the fans to have something to cheer about, so we’ll have a really attacking mindset.
“It’s been a really positive week. We’ve freshened up with the international break, so everyone’s itching to get out there and get back in front of the home crowd.”
Rudan: ‘There’s a big buy-in’
Mark Rudan has been equally stoic in assessing his Wellington Phoenix’s performances thus far.
The Phoenix began the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Season with a 2-1 victory over Newcastle Jets, before succumbing to a draw and two losses.
Rudan was not fazed by the results, though, insisting his side are on an upward trajectory.
“We’re always confident,” said Rudan.
“There’s a big buy-in from the players in terms of who we are, what we are, what we’re trying to achieve.
“And we’re still trying to work on that, we’re developing on that.
“It’s a long process, and there’s no quick fix, there’s no magic wand and I completely understand that.
“We’re going through a bit of a moment that many other clubs go through, not just us. It’s a hiccup along the way and, like I said, we’re working extremely hard to fix those problems.”
Rudan fielded questions suggesting his side were too defensive against Melbourne City.
However, the 43-year-old who enjoyed a prolific club career in Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Switzerland, backed his side’s performances and processes.
“We’ve been very clear on who we are and what we want to do,” said Rudan. “First and foremost we want to be a hard team to beat.
“I had this conversation with the players: They’ve played a certain brand of football that probably hasn’t worked, and they’ve all agreed this is the best way in terms of the progression and our development to start off.
“We can be better. The last two games, if you really want to look at it, we conceded after having chances, and we’ve conceded after eight and 11 minutes.
“And it does put you on the back foot somewhat, but it’s not that we haven’t created chances thereafter.”
Wellington Phoenix host Adelaide United in rebel Female Football Round on Saturday, November 24. Kick-off at Westpac Stadium is at 5:35pm AEDT.