FORMER Goonellabah soccer player Adam Hughes was understandably gutted after his team Adelaide United lost in dramatic circumstances to Perth Glory this week.
The Reds had led 2-0 in the first half, but a red card to defender Iain Fyfe in the 60th minute changed the game, with Perth scoring three late goals. Hughes came on as a substitute in the second half.
Hughes has just returned to Australia from various stints in Europe.
He achieved particular success in the Irish Premier League, where he played for Sligo Rovers and Drogheda United.
It was for Drogheda United in 2008 that he played in four UEFA Champions League qualifiers against continental teams Dinamo Kiev and Estonian club FC Levadia Talinn.
Although his club did not qualify, it was a great experience for Hughes.
But the 2009 Global Financial Crisis hit his club hard, forcing Hughes and his fellow players to stop training. It also compelled Hughes to reconsider his future.
“I was looking for new clubs and it was a case of coming home for the children,” he said.
“I had offers from a few A-League clubs, but I wanted to be playing consistently, so I chose Adelaide United.”
Despite being one of the best-performed teams over the past four years, Adelaide are at the bottom of the A-League ladder.
Twice an A-League finalist, including last year, Hughes is at a loss to find a reason for Adelaide’s lack of success.
“To tell you the truth, that’s just football,” he said.
“It’s just the way it is.
“We still have a mathematical chance of making the finals, so we still have a chance, hopefully.
“But we have to win our final four games.”
Hughes, 27, has started most games this season and has signed a two-year deal with the Reds.
The central midfielder scored against Melbourne Victory earlier in the season and believes his form has been fairly consistent.
Despite the likelihood of missing the finals, Hughes and his team-mates are looking forward to the Asian Champions League.
“It will be a new, different experience,” Hughes said.
“The squad did well last time they played in it and it will be another challenge for us.”
Adelaide are in a tough qualifying group, though, facing teams from China and Japan and the Asian powerhouse, Korea’s Pohang Steelers.
The Champions League qualifying games will run from February to April.