Velaphi eyes finals glory

Young Perth Glory goalkeeper Tando Velaphi admits he has had a rollercoaster start to his Hyundai A-League season, but is excited at the prospect of helping the Glory to the finals.

Young Perth Glory goalkeeper Tando Velaphi admits he has had a rollercoaster start to his Hyundai A-League season, but is excited at the prospect of helping the Glory to the finals.

The Glory are yet to make a Hyundai A-League finals appearance, but currently sit equal top of the table with 13 points after two straight road wins and for Velaphi it has been an interesting start to the season.

The 22-year-old had some standout performances in the Glory's goal, then let in a crucial goal against Central Coast and returned home the next week to get knocked out by Shane Smeltz's leg late in the 2-2 draw with Gold Coast United.

He missed the win over the Brisbane Roar due to that concussion, but made a solid return in last week's 1-0 win in Newcastle. He knows it has been an up-and-down season for himself, but he's focused on continuing to get better.

"It has been a rollercoaster ride for me so far. I'm just trying to be as good as I can be, though, and to keep working hard to keep getting better. Enjoying it is the most important part and I'm certainly doing that," Velaphi said.

"Our back four has been great all season and they have really limited what I have had to do, which is great. I keep trying to work on my game to contribute to the team as much as I can."

The recruiting of Mile Sterjovski, Andy Todd, Jacob Burns, Chris Coyne and Branko Jelic has helped the Glory to equal top of the table, the first time Perth has been in such a position this far into a Hyundai A-League season. Making the finals is certainly the goal for Velaphi.

"The club made quite a lot of changes coming into the season and so far the results have all been really positive. The Glory hasn't been in this position since the old NSL days, so we are happy with how it's going so far," he said.

"That monkey is off our back now of winning on the road. Even though our performances weren't as good as they have been at home, we still got the points and that's all that matters. We are getting good results, but know we have plenty still to improve on."

"As a playing group, we know what we are capable of and finals is our aim before we start thinking about a championship. Our main aim is to get into the finals and from there anything can happen."

Velaphi is no stranger to representing Australia having been part of the Qantas Under-23s, Qantas Young Socceroos and Beijing Olympics team, and his goal is definitely to one day play for the Qantas Socceroos.

"It's everyone's dream to represent their country at the highest level possible in their sport and I'm no different. I'm still young for a 'keeper, but playing for the Socceroos is what I train for and am striving to achieve," he said.

"I'm looking at that happening down the track more so than in the immediate future, but the Socceroos guys in our team have given me some advice on how to go about it and I'll just take it one step at a time."

As to why he became a goalkeeper, it was more by chance than anything and he has no doubt playing AFL growing up has helped.

"I played a lot of AFL when I was growing up and most of the time that was on Saturday and I played soccer on Sunday," he said.

"I had a good knack at using my hands from picking up the AFL skills and then one day our soccer team needed a goalie, I put my hand up and went all right. I've stayed there since and that footy background definitely helped."