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Jul 20, 2013

Galekovic firms for World Cup selection

It was a standout performance in an otherwise forgettable game for Australia and one that looks likely to have earned Socceroos goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic a ticket to Brazil.

The Adelaide United shotstopper produced save after brilliant save to help Australia avoid defeat against a rampant South Korea in the opening clash of the East Asian Cup in Seoul on Saturday.

In what was an experimental side consisting of mainly A-League players, Galekovic's heroics against a relentless Korean attack somehow ensured the match ended 0-0, handing the Socceroos a point ahead of their clash with Japan on Thursday.

Coach Holger Osieck is using the tournament to test fringe and new Socceroos as he looks to assemble a squad for next year's World Cup and says the 32-year-old gloveman's chances have firmed.

"The tournament will be a good opportunity for me to look at individual players and their perspective for the future," Osieck said.

"The way Galekovic performed tonight definitely puts him in the frame."

Central Coast young gun Mitchell Duke earned his first cap, playing at the point of attack in place of Josh Kennedy who wasn't released by his Japanese club Nagoya Grampus for the four-team tournament.

Erik Paartalu and Tomi Juric also made their international debuts as second-half substitutes with Mark Milligan wearing the captain's armband for the first time.

But Galekovic was the star of the show displaying sound technique and composure to thwart a barrage of Korean strikes.

Yun Il-Lok was one of the most dangerous in a young Korean side missing all their Europe-based stars and playing under new coach Hong Myeong-Bo, who captained the nation to the World Cup semis in 2002.

Korea dictated play in the one-sided encounter in which Australia had no notable chances.

All too easily they got past the back line of Ivan Franjic, Jade North, Ryan McGowan and Michael Thwaite.

North acknowledged Galekovic was too often left to clean up the mess.

"He was on fire, he saved our arse a couple of times, but that's just him, he's been like that for a number of years now."

Newcastle's midfield workhorse Ruben Zadkovich, playing in only his second Socceroos game, predicted big things for Galekovic.

"He's amazing, he'll probably go home with Man United if he get's back to Australia in time," he joked.

"But it wouldn't surprise me if a big club comes for him because he's a great guy and a great goalkeeper and tonight he showed his class."

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