Velaphi out to prove he's number one

Incumbent Melbourne City number one Tando Velaphi says he’s focused on becoming the club’s first choice stopper rather than earning a new contract.

Velaphi, 27, has been City’s first choice since Andrew Redmayne conceded five goals in a heavy loss to Wellington Phoenix in November.

But for a 2-0 defeat at Central Coast when Velaphi was sent off, City have not lost when he’s started this season.

In fact, for a club that has conceded 29 goals in 18 games, only six of those have come in Velaphi’s eight starts.

Velaphi’s recent form, conceding just once in their past three matches, is boosting his chances of earning a new deal with his contract due to expire at season's end.

“Things like that sort themselves out in the end,” Velaphi told FourFourTwo.

“My manager will sort that out. I’m just enjoying playing. The opportunities have been limited for me over the past four years. I’m really relishing that challenge.”

Velaphi, who is at his fourth A-League club, is settled in Melbourne and is enjoying being part of City’s ambitions.

“We’ve got a great group at City and with all the changes at the club over the past 12 months it’s exciting and great to be a part of it,” he said.

“The club has set a benchmark. As a player, you want the best facilities and everything.

“But you never know in football, different things come up at different times. You take it day by day. When you’re younger you might take it for granted but I’ve learnt, as you get older, not to.”

Velaphi refused to take the credit for City’s improved defensive record with him in goal and pointed to the club’s January trip to the UAE.

“We had a break over in Abu Dhabi where we worked on some things,” he said.

“We identified our strengths and weaknesses and stuck to that plan. We don’t waver much from what we’re good at and stick to that.”

The shot-stopper also said new signing Harry Novillo has settled in well at the club since arriving as an injury replacement for Damien Duff this week.

“He’s been really lively,” Velaphi said. “He just stepped off the plane on the weekend, but was in on training on Tuesday. He’s looked very sharp.

“The French are always quite eccentric and he’s got some laughs in the change-rooms already.”

Sixth-placed City takes on eighth-placed Mariners at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday.