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Jul 21, 2013

Galekovic pushing Schwarzer for spot

He may not be willing to say it but Eugene Galekovic is well and truly pushing Mark Schwarzer for the Socceroos goalkeeping spot.

The Adelaide United gloveman made his international debut in 2009 and has been on coach Holger Osieck's radar for a while.

But in Seoul on Saturday he made his strongest claim yet for a berth in Brazil with a series of brilliant saves in the East Asian Cup opener against South Korea.

Osieck is reluctant to heap praise on any of his charges but even he admitted the performance - Galekovic's seventh Socceroos appearance - "put him in the frame" for next year's World Cup.

The man himself is even more reluctant to accept praise, putting the performance down to simply getting out of the bed on the right side.

"I felt really good, I don't know why. I felt really good waking up, I had enough rest, it felt like I was going to have a good game from the first minute," he said.

Galekovic was called into the 2010 World Cup squad as a late replacement for reserve keeper Brad Jones who flew home to help his son battle leukaemia.

But this time round he looks a legitimate contender to be named one of three gloveman in the 23-man World Cup squad.

Not that the understated shotstopper would admit it.

"I would love to repeat my South African experience, but it's a long way away," he said.

"There's this tournament and then a whole season with Adelaide United in which I have to do well to put my name forward.

"Every game and every training session is a step. There's a long way to go but hopefully I can keep putting my name out there."

Osieck has made it clear regular game time is a prerequisite for World Cup selection.

While the evergreen Schwarzer remains Australia's undisputed No.1, his decision to sign with English Premier League giants Chelsea, where he will play second fiddle to Petr Cech, raised plenty of eyebrows.

Otherwise competition is fierce for the other two goalkeeper spots in Brazil with Galekovic and European-based players Mitchell Langerak, Mat Ryan, Adam Federici and Jones in all in the mix.

Of all of them however, Galekovic is the only one certain to play week-in-week-out at club level.

Fellow A-League players Nathan Coe and Mark Birighitti, part of the current East Asia Cup squad, are slim hopes at best.

But Galekovic insists he's not assessing his position in battle for selection.

"Goalkeepers are in a funny position. You just have to worry about yourself and how you are going to perform week in and week out," he said.

"You can't worry if other boys are playing or not because you won't make it yourself.

"I think it's a great move for Schwarzer. Chelsea is one of the best teams in the world, and knowing Mark he is going to push Cech all the way if he is number two, and he is definitely going to get some game time."

Apart from a one-season stint at Portuguese second division club S.C. Beira-Mar in 2004, Galekovic has played all his club football in Australia.

And while visa complications have made it difficult to play abroad he's happy to continue captaining Adelaide for now, saying the responsibility of leading a side has helped lift his form.

"I have played my best football there," said the 32-year-old who joined United from Melbourne Victory in 2007.

"If an opportunity came every player would look at it.

"You want to play at the highest level, and if there was a competition bigger and better than the A-League you would obviously look at it."

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