Galekovic vows torrid time for Darwin debutants

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Inaugural FFA Cup champions Adelaide United will make more history when they take on Northern Territory debutants Darwin Olympic.

The Reds will travel to Australia’s smallest capital city for the Round of 32 clash which is expected to ignite football in the Top End.

But it won’t be the first time Josep Gombau’s men have made the long trek north since sealing a partnership with Tourism NT.

“It’s great that we are playing against Darwin Olympic,” said Adelaide club captain Eugene Galekovic.

“The club has that connection due to the sponsorship.

“I helped launch it and since then I’ve been up there a few times. Last year we toured for a good week and played some games.

“It’s a coincidence that we’re also drawn against the best team in the NT."

The Round of 32 draw was broadcast and streamed live, with cameras located at the clubs around the country adding further pomp to the ceremony.

Galekovic agrees that the national knockout competition is now a prominent feature on the Australian football calendar.

“It is going to grow – you look at FA Cup in England and it's massive now,” said the veteran goalkeeper and 11-cap Socceroo.

“It probably would have started in a very similar way to how our cup competition started last season, so it’s just going to grow bigger and better.

“For these smaller teams that can qualify it’s a real bonus to see if they can knock off A-League opponents.

“Especially with us wining it last year – a lot of these teams want to play the holders and it gives Darwin the opportunity to show us what they’ve got.”

Going into this campaign as reigning cup champions has upped the pressure on the Reds who are keen to avoid the ignominy of an early exit at the hands of their less celebrated opponents.

“We want to win this game, we are not counting it as a friendly or anything like that," Galekovic said.

“It’s part of pre-season and we are going to give it everything we’ve got."

He added: “It’s a big difference to the last competition because we didn’t play local teams, we played all A-League teams and got through the hard way. 

“Now we’ve got some smaller teams that want to knock off the big boys and we are going to go into this game fully aware of that.

"We are not going to go easy on them. We want win the game and do our best in the game.

The Reds will warm up for their FFA Cup clash on August 5 with two high-profile friendlies against English Premier League heavyweights.

“The preparation for the upcoming season is very good this year,” Galekovic said.

“It’s different to all the other years as we have Manchester City in a couple of weeks, then we play Liverpool straight after that.

“Obviously they are very good games to prepare us for the game against Darwin.

“It’s pretty hectic, (but) I think the players would rather have a lot more games than a harder pre-season so we are really looking forward to it.

“These are really good games to prepare for the FFA Cup but also the A-League season.”

Boosting the Red’s pre-season preparation is the announcement of a new training base at Ridley Reserve and the appointment of former assistant Strength and Rehabilitation Coach at Port Adelaide Football Club Greg King.

“They are both positive steps,” the 34 year old said.

“Greg King is looking very good and the boys are liking what he’s been doing.

“In terms of the training ground we can’t wait for those training facilities to be built because there are not many grounds available in Adelaide so hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.”

Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Click here to see more of his work and check out the latest episode of his A-League Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.