Vukovic puts past behind him

Danny Vukovic is looking forward to the day when his name is no longer associated with that incident.

Danny Vukovic is looking forward to the day when his name is no longer associated with that incident.

To the day when all people talk about are his exploits between the sticks.

Not that the Central Coast goalkeeper ever expected to quickly live down the moment he slapped referee Mark Shield during an explosive end to last season's Hyundai A-League grand final.

A moment of madness which led to a ban and cost Vukovic the opportunity to represent his country at the Olympic Games.

A contrite Vukovic accepted his medicine and has moved on.

He now senses others are, slowly, doing the same.

"I've put it behind me - it's other people who are going to remember what I did in the grand final," he said.

"It's up to me to put in good performances on the pitch so people talk about that rather than the incident."

"Slowly but surely people are starting to let that go and focus on what I'm doing on the pitch."

The 23-year-old insists the drama hasn't affected him but is the first to admit his form during the Coast's 2008/09 campaign has dipped in comparison to previous seasons.

The Mariners' defence has leaked goals and Vukovic accepts his share of the blame.

"I don't think it's been one of my better seasons," he conceded.

"In previous seasons I've stood out more for my team and made some more important saves."

"This season it doesn't seem to have gone my way."

Maybe not, but Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek obviously saw something he liked.

He had Vukovic on his bench for last month's Asian Cup qualifier against Indonesia in Jakarta, a clear sign the Mariners short-stopper is in favour with those who count.

"It was great to be in the national team set-up and in Pim Verbeek's mind," Vukovic said.

"It was great to go over there and a tremendous experience to sit on the bench."

But it's matters closer to home that have consumed Vukovic this week.

The Central Coast stand on the brink of Hyundai A-League finals extinction after losing 2-0 to Queensland in the first leg of the minor semi-final at Bluetongue Stadium.

The equation for the Mariners in the return bout at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night is simple - on paper at least.

Last year's grand finalists must win by three clear goals or they can start pulling out their Mad Monday fancy dress.

Vukovic is taking comfort from the past in looking to the future.

"You just have to have a look at what happened with us last season. We lost 2-0 in the major semi-final against Newcastle and managed to win 3-2 in the return leg," he pointed out.

"We're hoping we can do something similar in Queensland."

"(Coach) Lawrie (McKinna) has told us we don't necessarily need to score in the first half, we just need to compete."

"We need to go up there and play some good football because that's something we haven't done in the last couple of weeks."

"Hopefully our luck can change a bit and things go our way on Friday night."

Vukovic is a living example that fortunes can change very rapidly - and unexpectedly - in the football world.