Adelaide United coach Josep Gombau admitted the pressure of potentially placing one hand on the Premier’s Plate may have got the better of his team which succumbed to a 3-2 loss to Brisbane Roar at Coopers Stadium on Saturday.
Following Perth Glory’s expulsion from A-League contention for salary cap breaches and Melbourne Victory’s shock bottom-beating-top home loss to the Newcastle Jets on Friday, the Reds could have leapt into top spot on the ladder.
Instead, United let a heck of an opportunity slip against a Roar outfit that has underachieved all season and should have been ripe for the taking having just flown in from Australia to South Korea following Wednesday’s 3-1 away AFC Champions League loss to Suwon Bluewings.
“Playing Wednesday and Saturday is not a big, big deal,” Gombau said, dismissing the belief that Brisbane would have been weary.
“They rested, had the right recovery and they were ready to play.
“It’s more us. Maybe this pressure (of) needing to win and finishing top is something he players are not used to.
“Today was not our day. We didn’t have a good game, especially in the first half.”
The Reds will need to finish more crisply and be smarter defensively regardless of who they come up against in the finals and avoid conceding messy goals as they did against the Roar in goign 3-0 down.
Skipper Eugene Galekovic’s own goal conceded was the worst of the three and perhaps the ugliest howler of the experienced and accomplished custodian’s long career.
Galekovic, the match-winner in the previous round’s away win over Sydney FC, had a nightmare against Brisbane but Gombau went in to bat for his keeper.
“Last week he was amazing and this week we had these mistakes,” Gombau said.
“It’s part of football - his big save last week and today he had a mistake.
“We need to keep going and not lose our head after losing one game.”
The Reds have lost both times to Brisbane at Hindmarsh this season, have lost seven and had a draw from their last eight home encounters with the Roar and have lost seven of their last nine overall against their Queensland bogey side.
Gombau acknowledged there are some teams that present regular match-up problems for Adelaide, but in a sudden-death final, things can change.
“It’s true that for us there are teams that are difficult,” Gombau said.
“When we play against Victory we don’t get the results, now Brisbane come and beat us. “Then we go to another place and we win.
“But a final is a final – one game. It doesn’t matter.”