Joe Gauci was asked about his Asian Cup chances. It prompted an honest assessment from the Reds star

Hear from Joe Gauci ahead of Adelaide's crunch clash against Western Sydney at CommBank Stadium on Friday.

The Socceroos and next month’s AFC Asian Cup were on the agenda as Adelaide United goalkeeper Joe Gauci fronted the media midweek.

Why? Socceroos captain Mat Ryan suffered a fractured cheekbone and underwent surgery, which will see him race the clock to be fit for January’s Asian Cup in Qatar.

Graham Arnold is yet to name his squad for the showpiece Asian event, where Australia will play Uzbekistan, Syria and India in Group B, but Gauci has been involved in recent internationals, including last month’s 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup qualifiers.

Gauci has one cap to his name after making his Socceroos debut against Ecuador in March and the 23-year-old was asked about the possibility of replacing number one shot-stopper Ryan should he be unavailable for the Asian Cup.

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“It is an opportunity if I am going to be selected, but the squad hasn’t been announced,” Gauci replied ahead of Friday night’s Isuzu UTE A-League showdown against Western Sydney Wanderers. “There is no further for me to look than the next game for us in Adelaide, Friday night.

“No point talking about hypotheticals when the squad hasn’t even been announced.

“I am sure Maty will be fit, firing and ready for the Asian Cup.”

Pressed on Ryan’s injury and the “incentive” it could provide amid fitness doubts over the Socceroos skipper, Gauci said on Wednesday: “There is always incentive to perform, isn’t there? I’m not going out not trying to perform.

“If I can keep the ball out of the net, keep a clean sheet for Adelaide, be successful, the result of that could be that I get selected for the national team and then the result of that could be there is an opportunity to play.

“No need to have any more incentive to play well than to get three points.”

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Another reporter asked if his form this season would make him a good replacement for Ryan should the veteran keeper not feature at the Asian Cup, and an honest Gauci added: “I’ve been pleased with some of my games but at the same time, I haven’t played a perfect game once this season.

“Yes, we’ve kept a few clean sheets and I know that it’s quite often the main stat for goalkeepers but no, I haven’t played a perfect game.

“I’m still making mistakes every game, although I try to reduce the glaring ones or the ones that result in goals. Obviously I’m a lot with my feet. Distribution is something I’ve worked on a lot through the pre-season but I’m not perfect in that regard either.

“Decision making, you saw on the weekend the goal that got disallowed on a ball that I came for on a ball that probably wasn’t mine. In saying that, I’d be confident if the opportunity was to come up and I back myself 100% but at the same time, I’m very aware of the areas where I need to improve.”

He continued: “I’m always comparing myself to not only to keepers in the league but keepers overseas at the highest level. That’s the level I want to get to.

“I’m always comparing myself to the best.”

Gauci was also asked about Adelaide teammate Nestory Irankunda.

Bayern Munich-bound Irankunda was subbed off in the second half after a quiet showing in Adelaide’s 2-0 loss to Brisbane Roar last week. The 17-year-old covered his face with his jersey and his hands as the cameras panned to him.

“Personally, that’s something that he needs to keep in check,” Gauci said of Irankunda’s emotion.

“But also he’s extremely young. 17 years old, I just signed my professional contract, I hadn’t just signed at Bayern Munich and have the pressures of Australian football on his shoulders.

“I can never really understand the pressure that’s put on him externally, also internally. He is still a kid and he is still trying to discover himself as a person as well as a professional.

“I think it’s easy to judge and look at what you see and maybe make assumptions of the way they’re feeling but I don’t think you ever understand, people never really understand what’s going on behind the scenes or how they feel away from football.

“In saying that, he can maybe control them (emotions) a little better. But that’s something he will learn with age and experience. He’s had some fantastic performances. He’s probably used to scoring and having the highlights but in football you’re probably going to have more games where that doesn’t happen. It’s about managing that.

“He is not even 18 years old. We just need to take it easy on him sometimes as well.”

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