You wouldn’t want to put the moz on him by drawing attention to it, but Geelong keeper Joey Didulica has made an incredible start to his resumed career in Holland with AZ Alkmaar. His club has played ten games in the Dutch Eredivisie (First Division) and the UEFA Cup and remains unbeaten. Most recently AZ thumped SC Braga from Portugal by three goals to nil in the UEFA Cup this week, but the big win was achieved thanks to some superb saves by keeper Didulica. One finger tip touch around the post from striker Marcel brought the crowd to its feet and was the turning point in the match, since former Glasgow Rangers star and AZ skipper, Shoto Arveladze scored immediately afterwards to set his team on its way.
Didulica will get considerable media exposure as his club pursues domestic and European success and this will further his campaign to become the number one keeper for Croatia, the country he reluctantly decided to play for when he was not selected for Australia. Didulica was in the Croatian squad at the World Cup in Germany but unluckily did not get any game time in the tournament.
He recently celebrated his 29th birthday with a clean sheet in a two-nil away win over Sparta Rotterdam. AZ is second top of the league, a point behind Ajax Amsterdam.
Didulica is well known in Holland having spent several years with Ajax before moving to Austria Vienna in the Austrian Bundesliga. In domestic matches he comes up against a former Ajax colleague, Socceroo Jason Culina, who is now with PSV Eindhoven.
Meanwhile the news is not so good for another Geelong overseas player, Socceroo Josip Skoko. Though he played in the recent matches against Paraguay and Bahrain, he is finding it difficult to break into the Wigan Athletic first team in the English Premier League. Last season he moved to Stoke City on loan to maintain match fitness prior to the World Cup and he may have to look at a temporary or permanent move again this year. He did start in Saturday’s 4–0 thrashing of Manchester City and his free kick led to an own goal for Wigan by City’s skipper Richard Dunne. But Skoko was replaced after half an hour by Danny Landzaat, whose place he had taken for the game. Skoko had incurred a hamstring injury and despite praise from coach Paul Jewell, he is likely to be out for some weeks.
The Advertiser carried the footnote: ‘The Roy Hay kiss of death has struck. Overnight Culina’s PSV Eindhoven downed AZ Alkmaar 3-1’. To rub salt in the wound, Joey was severely concussed by a close range shot from Culina which struck him in the face and he too will be out for some games. Perhaps I should give up this football writing?