‘Finals is the bare minimum. We’re pushing it all the way’: Gauci

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Adelaide United goalkeeper Joe Gauci is proud of his side’s record of three consecutive clean sheets against A-League opposition in recent pre-season friendly matches but says they will count for little if the defensive strength doesn’t continue into the season proper.

The Reds drew nil-all with Western United in a behind closed doors friendly at Coopers Stadium on Thursday, rounding out the pre-season after respective one-nil wins over Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney.

It sets the side up for its 2023/24 Isuzu UTE A-League season opener against Central Coast next Friday night and Gauci says the side is ready to challenge the reigning champion.

Speaking with media, the gloveman, who pulled off a host of saves to be one of the better players for the Reds on Thursday, spoke about the defensive work the players have put in over the off-season, the way recruit Ryan Tunnicliffe has settled in, and the club’s goals for the 2023/24 campaign.

Joe Gauci on the season being just a week away:

“It’s been a long slog. We always say at the start of pre-season it’s the world’s longest pre-season but for me it’s gone fairly fast as well.

“I think having the cup early on to look forward to is always a positive, I think that little period where we didn’t play many games was a bit long, but the last month has really flown by playing A-League opposition in the last three weeks.”

Joe Gauci on the side’s focus on being stronger defensively in the off-season:

“Our defensive structure is something we’ve worked on immensely through the off-season and pre-season. The coaching staff have a real strong mindset and a strong way we want to defend the box and that’s something we take pride in.

“Carl said before the game, a goal-line clearance, we want to celebrate that like we would if we scored a goal.

“I think that’s shown in the last couple of weeks, but it all means nothing if we can’t do it once the league starts. That’s what our focus is now.”

Joe Gauci on grinding out the result against Western United despite windy conditions and some players being absent with illness:

“There were a few circumstances that weren’t perfect, but you’ve got to be able to mentally prepare yourself regardless of the circumstances.

“There were a few players playing in different positions and a lot of chopping and changing throughout the game so it’s great to see the players coming in – young or old, in different positions – they know the structure and they know the way we want to play, and we were still able to compete against A-League opposition. So I think there’s a lot of positives we can take away.”

Joe Gauci on young players like Johnny Yull, Panache Madanha, Mousa Toure and Bernardo getting more game time:

“Adelaide is a proud club with a lot of really talented young players and they will get an opportunity.

“The club has said that openly from the coaching staff through to (Head of Football) Marius (Zanin) and the players, we’ve said that if the boys are doing the work on the training field, and putting in the performances then age is not a factor that is going to limit game time.”

Joe Gauci on how English midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe has settled into the club:

“Really smooth. He’s transitioned really well. He comes across with a lot of experience and comes across really as a nice guy with no ego whatsoever. He’s looking to push not only himself but the guys around him, which has probably been the thing that has stood out the most to me.

“(He’s) extremely vocal and positive towards the young players and really looking to drive them as a defensive minded midfielder, looking to push the people in front of him.

“I think each week he’s really grown into the squad.”

Joe Gauci on the side’s goals for the season:

“We want to win a championship. That’s our goal. If we weren’t aiming to win it all, there’d be no point doing it would there? That’s the goal we have. We’ve had three semi-finals in the last three seasons so we’re as ambitious as ever to go one better.

“Finals is the bare minimum. We’re pushing it all the way.”

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