Mitch Langerak ready for Australia’s battle with New Zealand

Mitch Langerak ready for Australia’s battle with New Zealand

  • Football
  • September 21, 2022
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  • 3 minutes read

Mitch Langerak’s days as a nervous Socceroos “fan” are over as he pushes for selection in Australia’s World Cup squad.

Having answered Socceroos coach Graham Arnold’s call by reversing his decision to retire from international football, Japan-based Langerak is back home in Queensland for Australia’s friendly match against New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.

And the 34-year-old Nagoya Grampus goalkeeper has felt “at home straight away” as he reunites with Arnold, the rest of the coaching staff and his Socceroos teammates.

“It’s unbelievable … I’m loving it at the moment,” Langerak said.

The Emerald-born custodian had a different kind of love for the team after deciding to retire from Socceroos duty in May last year for family reasons at a time when Covid-19 was running rife in Japan.

“Watching it, you revert back to as I was when I was a little boy watching the Socceroos,” Langerak said.

“I’m pumped to watch it as a fan. Obviously it’s a different feeling because I know all the guys, I have a close relationship with a lot of the guys … but all us players, we’re the same as we were as 12, 13, 14-year-olds, watching the Socceroos, watching Harry (Kewell) and Timmy (Cahill).”

As “pumped” as Langerak was to support the Socceroos from afar in their successful bid to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Qatar, he was also a bundle of nerves.

“When you’re watching, you’re more nervous, for sure, because when you’re playing, you can have an effect or you feel like you can control things … but when you’re watching, you can’t do anything,” the former Melbourne Victory gloveman said.

However, Langerak is now back in the position where he can have an influence.

There is no doubting a ‘keeper of his quality should have more than the eight caps he has acquired in a Socceroos career dating back to 2013, but he has to play second fiddle to Mat Ryan.

With 30-year-old Ryan’s ascendancy to the national captaincy and his recent return to regular first-team football at club level following his move from Spanish side Real Sociedad to Danish outfit FC Copenhagen, Langerak knows he is still facing an uphill battle to become Australia’s first-choice keeper.

“I’m just here to push as hard as I can and to be in that final selection for the World Cup,” he said.

“I’m here to be a member of the squad in any position. What’s required of me, I’ll do.

“I’ll be 100 per cent supporting Matty in this situation, trying to pump him up, get him ready, push him forward, and make sure that he’s got that confidence in knowing that there are guys behind him who want to help him be the best goalkeeper he can be.”

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