Eugene Galekovic will live to fight another day despite feeling ‘shattered’ for his team mates after the Reds’ 1-0 loss to Pohang.
Adelaide United captain Eugene Galekovic will live to fight another day despite feeling ‘shattered- for his team mates after his rare mistake proved to be the decisive moment in the Reds- 1-0 loss to the Pohang Steelers.
Galekovic was given a cruel reminder of how thankless and highly scrutinised a goalkeeper-s job can be in the space of 90 minutes on Tuesday night. Regarded as having some of the safest hands in the business, Galekovic appeared to have a curling 68th minute Pohang free kick at his near post covered.
The shot looked to be heading narrowly to the outside of Galekovic-s near post, but in a moment that he admits caught him in two minds, the 30 year old could not grasp the ball cleanly in the extremely cold and swirly conditions. Pohang-s Dae Ho was lightning quick to react to the loose ball, cleverly tucking it into the back of the net from a tight angle.
Upon the Reds- arrival back in Adelaide, it would have been easy for Galekovic to make a beeline for the exit and go into hiding, but the Reds skipper faced up to questions about the incident that would end up determining the result at the Pohang Steelyard.
“It was one of those things, it happened that quick,” Galekovic recalls.
“I had two things in my head - the ball was going out and I was deciding whether to catch it or leave it and I went for it and fumbled it.”
“Obviously it-s disappointing. It-s a long way to go and to concede a goal like I did, I feel shattered for the boys because they put in a good 90 minutes and for one mistake to cost the team - I feel shattered for the boys.”
Since he started his tenure at Adelaide United, it would be impossible to count on two hands the number of times Galekovic has single-handedly saved the Reds and kept them in games. But unfortunately for goalkeepers, it is often a solitary mistake, rather than the brilliant saves, that is remembered after a game because of the impact it can have on a result.
Galekovic understands that this comes with the territory, however the dual Hyundai A-League Goalkeeper of the Year and Reds Club Champion is not about to let that moment against Pohang get the better of him.
“That-s the position of a goalkeeper. You make one mistake and it can cost your team and everyone talks about it, but you-ve got to deal with it and the best thing to do now is forget about it,” Galekovic said.
“As a goalkeeper you-ve got to get it out of your head and worry about the next training session, the next game.”
Reflecting on the broader picture, Galekovic acknowledged the Reds- defensive efforts to keep a technically superior and dominant Pohang outfit at bay for the majority of the contest.
But heading into the second half of the AFC Champions League Group Stage, Galekovic said the Reds would need to improve significantly in the times when they have the ball, particularly in manufacturing opportunities to test and worry the opposition defence.
“They (Pohang) are a very good team and their budgets are a lot more than ours, and the way they play, they-re the best team we-ve played so far in the group,” Galekovic said.
“Defensively we were good but going forward we weren-t great. We kept them out and defended well but we couldn-t keep the ball or move forward and I think that-s one thing we have to work on for our next game.”
Despite suffering their first loss of the Group stage, the Reds still remain equal top of Group E and now have two successive games at home to look forward to, games that Galekovic knows would most likely define United-s destiny of making it through to the Round of 16.
In a group that is still very much in the balance with just three points separating all four teams, the Reds will host Pohang on Wednesday 18 April before Uzbek club Bunyodkor come to Hindmarsh Stadium on May 2.
“We-ve got two home games in a row now so it-s still very positive I think we need about four more points to get through and we-re looking for six points in the next two games because we-re playing at home, so we want to cement our spot because we know the last game against Gamba (away) is going to be tough,” Galekovic said.
United-s squad will have the Easter long weekend off before returning to training on Tuesday.