Progress Report: Danny Vukovic

Ahead of the AFC Asian Cup in January, we're delivering weekly scouting reports on our Caltex Socceroos abroad.

This week the spotlight is on Danny Vukovic, a Hyundai A-League Grand Final winner making the most of a second chance in Europe.

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Progress report

Name: Danny Vukovic

Age: 33

Position: Goalkeeper

Caltex Socceroos record: Two appearances

Club: KRC Genk

Division: Belgian Pro League

Role

Vukovic's brave decision to leave Sydney FC last year has been rewarded handsomely.

The experienced shot-stopper slotted straight into KRC Genk's starting XI and hasn't shifted since.

He made 45 appearances during his debut campaign, helped the club qualify for the Europa League and received the fan-voted Golden Shoe award for player of the season.

His deputy at Genk is 21-year-old Nordin Jackers, a Belgium youth international that looks to be in for a wait for a first-team spot.

And Danny isn't the only Vukovic becoming a favourite at Genk with his young son Harley proving a hit with the club's fans!

Form

Genk are absolutely flying at the start of the new season.

Under former player Philippe Clement, the three-time Belgian champions look set to mount a title challenge after going unbeaten in their opening nine games.

Seven victories in that sequence have kept them within two points of leaders Club Brugge, while third-placed Anderlecht are a further six back.

Vukovic has been instrumental to the impressive start and has recorded four clean sheets, notably shutting out Anderlecht last month.

De Smurfen's form hasn't let up in the UEFA Europa League either.

Vukovic was beaten just twice in four qualifying meetings with Fola Esch and Lech Poznan, before a 9-4 aggregate defeat of Brondby in the play-off round secured group stage qualification.

Drawn alongside Besiktas, Sarpsborg and Malmo in Group I, Genk quickly banked three points by beating the latter 2-0 on September 20.

Danny Vukovic

Key performance

Genk's 1-0 win over Anderlecht at the start of September declared them ready to challenge at the top end of the table.

Sebastien Dewaest's lone goal three minutes into the second half saw off the visitors and cemented Vukovic's men as a team on the rise.

The goalkeeper held up his end of the bargain with a key pair of smart stops either side of half-time.

The first was to deflect a Yevhen Makarenko effort around the near post, while a more important denial of Kenny Saief made the result safe late in proceedings.

Buoyed by the triumph, a confident Genk have racked up six points and nine goals from their two subsequent Pro League fixtures.

Caltex Socceroos prospects

Though in fine club form, Vukovic's chances of consistently winning Caltex Socceroos caps are not helped by a position which has effectively been dominated by two men since 2001.

Mat Ryan has the number one spot locked down and, at 26, could keep the shirt for another decade.

However, new boss Graham Arnold is fully aware of Vukovic's talents, and the 33-year-old's playing level and mature mentality make him a valuable member of the squad.

Danny Vukovic