Coach John Kosmina knows the Reds would most likely not be in the last eight of the ACL if it was not for the efforts of Eugene Galekovic.
Adelaide United Coach John Kosmina knows the Reds would most likely not be in the last eight of the AFC Champions League if it was not for the remarkable efforts of goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic.
Kosmina, who was still recovering from a bout of laryngitis this morning, could not speak highly enough of the Reds- captain, who again produced a vintage performance of the highest calibre in the AFC Champions League to give him 15 clean sheets from 26 matches he has played in the competition.
The dual Hyundai A-League Goalkeeper of the Year rose to the occasion time and time again against Nagoya, but his contribution over the course of United-s road to the Quarter Finals has been crucial.
“What can you say about Eugene-s performance last night…one of the saves he made, that might happen once every two or three years if you-re lucky but he-s made two in one game,” Kosmina said.
“You look at the Pohang game (at Hindmarsh back on April 18) and he made a similar save in that one as well. You look at where we are now, it is a team game but goalkeepers – the ones that make the special saves that win you games, that is when you say you-ve really got a world class keeper on your books and we have.”
“When you look at the quality that he-s produced over the years he-s one of the best in the country, if not the best.”
While Kosmina acknowledged that collectively each player has performed admirably in helping the club on its amazing run in Asia, one player that endured a tough time of it during the Reds- domestic season but excelled in the ACL is defender Jon McKain.
McKain has had his share of critics since arriving at the club but after recovering from a nagging knee injury, he is now an integral part of one of the stingiest defences in the AFC Champions League, while he also scored the winner that ultimately made the Reds progress.
Kosmina said it was a credit to McKain for how he has turned his fortunes and his form around.
“It-s great. Jonny has worked at it, he-s worked hard to get where he is. He had a pretty significant injury to his knee and the eight weeks he had off he put a lot of time and effort into getting healthy, and his game, like the team as a whole, has actually improved week by week and last night he was outstanding,” Kosmina said.
The Reds managed to absorb everything Nagoya threw at them in a tense do-or-die Round of 16 contest, Kosmina admitting it was a gutsy effort from his charges to last it out against a highly talented team and show the tenacity and determination that they did after what has been a mentally and physically draining year.
“We weren-t really on our game last night. We gave possession away a little bit too much, and take nothing away from Nagoya, they-re a good side and they put us under the pump, but we-re at that stage now that the guys are fatigued,” Kosmina said.
“They started on May 5 last year and it has been a long 12 months with a lot of emotional turmoil in the middle of it all and that-s a thing that probably drains you more than the physical side of it.”
“Tactically we could have adjusted but technically they (Nagoya) are a really good side, they had some quality players right across the park and they had a couple of big units as well.”
“They-re all good athletes, they-re all technically adept, but for us to compete and survive at that level, it says a lot about the players, how much they want to win and their desire to win.”
The squad will now enjoy five weeks off before returning for the start of pre season training on July 9, with the added motivation that they are still alive in the AFC Champions League and have that to look forward to.