A week after declaring Diego Castro the best player in the Hyundai A-League, Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe has admitted he wants the unassuming Spaniard to keep flying under the radar.
Castro netted two goals in Glory’s thrilling 3-2 upset win over a 10-man Melbourne Victory at nib Stadium on Saturday night, taking his individual tally to nine for the season and five in his past three starts.
The 33-year-old winger has rarely been mentioned in the same breath as some of the league’s other imports and star players – and Lowe hopes it stays that way.
“Just forget about him, leave him alone,” Lowe said jokingly when asked whether Castro was getting enough plaudits for his high-quality performances.
“It’s a team effort, it’s a unit effort, it’s an individual effort, and everyone contributes. I guess he’s just a bit of the icing on the cake with a couple of things he does.”
Lowe also hoped another one of his star imports, Hungarian international Gyorgy Sandor, would continue to evade the spotlight and churn out more impressive performances like he did against Victory.
Sandor was instrumental in helping Glory to a surprise 2-0 lead in the first half and played an important holding role in the second as Victory, led by star striker Besart Berisha, mounted a brave comeback.
“I thought we just froze a touch, just looked a bit apprehensive, but then when we had to step up we stepped up again, which was pleasing,” Lowe said.
“I don’t think you’ll see a better game…that’s just my opinion.”
Glory is now just three points adrift of the top six after seemingly being out of finals contention a fortnight ago when Lowe’s men slumped to second last on the table after a fifth straight match without a win.
“There’s been a big onus on players to take responsibility,” Lowe said.
“They’re staying back and doing extra work, extra training and it’s working for the players. They deserve every credit they get.”
Lowe singled out young defender Aryn Williams as a prime example of the mantra he has tried to instil in his players in recent weeks.
Williams was listed to start at centre back, but complained of tightness just before kick-off and was replaced by new recruit Shane Lowry, who was impressive in his A-League debut.
“Fair play to the kid, he was really honest and said he felt tightened up,” Lowe said.
“He could have quite easily thought it would be OK and played but would have done himself and his team a disservice, but I think the honesty was fantastic.”
Glory will look to further close the gap on the top six next Sunday when they take on Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium and Lowe knows the importance of another win on the road.
“If we want to make finals we’ve got to go on a roll, but let’s take it a game at a time,” Lowe said.
“All the players want to go there, everyone at the club wants to go there, but to do that we’ve got to do something away from home. There’s the gauntlet, it’s been thrown down. I’m sure the guys will grasp it and kick on hopefully.”