"Friendly, cup final, doesn't matter"; Ralston smarting after Sydney beat Celtic

By Dave Flanigan

November 17, 2022

Celtic defender Anthony Ralston was in no mood to offer excuses after the Scottish champions fell to a 2-1 defeat in the opening match of the Sydney Super Cup.

The Hoops took the lead through Kyogo who deflected in Alexandro Bernabei’s shot from outside the box, but Robert Mak and Max Burgess won the game for Sydney FC with a couple of well-crafted goals.

Despite the defeat being largely meaningless in the context of Celtic’s season, Ralston agreed with his manager’s assessment that at Celtic, defeat is never acceptable.

Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images

Speaking to Celtic TV, Ralston said: “It doesn’t matter what competition you play in, whether it’s a friendly, a cup final, you don’t want to lose. Our intention was to come here and play no different to how we do in the league so if we lose in the league or anywhere else we’d be disappointed and the only positive you can really take is that it was good to get ninety in and that’s about it.

“I just felt as a collective we weren’t on it and there’s no excuse for that. We let them play through the middle too easily and in hindsight probably didn’t take our chances. I’m sure we’ll analyse it ourselves and see where we went wrong.

“We hold high standards here, friendly, cup final, doesn’t matter. We have the same intention going into each game and the intent was to come here and put on a show not only for the fans that live here and they get up to watch us at three in the morning whenever we’ve got league games back home so it’s disappointing from that aspect.

Ralston also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the Australian contingent of Celtic’s support who turned up in their numbers to see the Hoops play in their home country for the first time in over a decade.

He said: “It was nice to see the turnout here and to be able to perform in front of the fans who don’t always get to see us, so it’s nice to see them and for them to get to see us in person and that’s another positive to take from a disappointing night.

“Obviously you see the fanbase in Glasgow, it’s the best in the world, then you come over here and you see how strong the fan base is around the world and it’s special but we carry the responsibility of playing for this team and friendlies or league games they support us and pay to come and see us so it’s important that we keep giving back to them.

Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Though Celtic largely dominated the ball against Sydney, the home side were dangerous on the turnover and threatened multiple times in the first-half, before Celtic took control in the second period after Postecoglou introduced several established first-team stars at the break.

The comments from both Ralston and Postecoglou are a fine indicator of the mindset at Celtic, that despite the excellent recent domestic form and significant fixture congestion, nobody at the club is willing to accept being second-best, even in a friendly.

Celtic conclude their Sydney Super Cup on Sunday at 3:45am UK time, when they take on Frank Lampard’s crisis-ridden Everton side.

In other news: Ange Postecoglou shows no Celtic sympathy as he delivers classic media quip