20 Goalkeeper Mainz Greece
2014 has been...
A new challenge.
For 6ft 5 Greek goalkeeping sensation Stefanos Kapino hype is nothing new. Already a record breaker at junior level, Kapino received his first call up for the full national side almost three years ago, aged just 17. Having only recently arrived as the youngest player to represent Panathinaikos, Kapino became Greece’s youngest ever international, starting a friendly against Romania in November 2011.
He would retain the goalkeeping jersey for Oi Prasinoi for the next ten league matches as they tussled with Olympiakos for the number one spot. Consistently calm, Kapino was well shielded by his back four but coach Jesualdo Ferreira opted to bring in the more experienced Orestis Karnezis by mid-January 2012. Karnezis’ promotion was a smart move and a string of fine displays saw him concede only once in nine matches as Pana made their way to the top. Kapino returned to the bench and was called upon to make only one further start in his debut season.
If 2011/12 had been something of an exciting blur, the following season would be a much more grounded affair. Karnezis was a virtual ever present for both club and country, while Kapino marked his time as a substitute and played as a regular for the Greek Under-21 team.
When Karnezis moved on to Udinese (and subsequently Granada) in the summer of 2013, Kapino had his chance to impress the latest (and there had been many that year) coach at the Apostolos Nikolaidis; Yannis Anastasiou.
2013/14 was all about regular football for Kapino and that’s exactly how things turned out. When we published the #IBWM100 for 2014 in December last year, Kapino had recently lost his place to veteran custodian Stefanos Kotsolis but returned to first team action in early January. A succession of standout performances in the first part of this year ensured that he was called for international duty again and travelled to Brazil this summer as Karnezis’ deputy, although he remained an unused substitute at the World Cup.
Upon returning from South America, Kapino transferred to Mainz for just over £2m to provide competition to Lorus Karius; although he’s yet to play a match for his new club.
We’re quite excited about the set up at Mainz right now, particularly with regard to goalkeepers. The club lost their talismanic coach Thomas Tuchel earlier this year but replaced him with Dane Kasper Hjulmand, who did particularly well in leading Nordsjælland to their first ever title. So far, Hjulmand has picked up exactly where Tuchel left off and only in recent weeks have they slipped back slightly.
Ever present between the sticks so far this season has been German Under-21 international Karius; who has performed pretty well throughout. What we appreciate though is the competition that Hjulmand has put in place by introducing Kapino to the club. Mainz now have two very talented young goalkeepers who will be eager to ensure that the other doesn’t a game. Karius has the number one shirt right now (or whatever number goalkeepers have these days), but Kapino will be ready to step in at the slightest rick. A high pressure situation perhaps, but a great learning curve for both. A long term, intense battle to see who comes out on top? Yes, please.
Both Karius and Kapino have the ability to become world class goalkeepers and this is a situation that will benefit Mainz greatly. If there was one criticism of Tuchel, it’s that his teams conceded a little too easily, however, competition for the goalkeeping jersey, and other defensive positions this year appears to be focusing minds. In the opening 11 Bundesliga matches last season, Mainz conceded 23 goals, at the same stage this season, that’s down to 12 and Die Nullfünfer have already faced four of last season’s top six.
Eventually Kapino is going to get his chance, it’ll be up to him how that works out.
"Came to Mainz with a good amount of hype but has been just a backup so far and will likely remain so for rest of the season." - Cristian Nyari
C- Superb in the first half of the year and a great move. Just needs a chance.
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