Left-out Langerak plays long game on road to Russia

Mitch Langerak might have missed out on Australia’s latest squad but the goalkeeper will dig deep to be there when it really counts - at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in three months time.

Largely the victim of his relative inactivity at Levante, prior to his January J1 League move to Nagoya Grampus, Langerak has the pedigree to force his way back into the mix for Russia, and has already embarked on that quest as he embraces life in Japan.

Such are the goalkeeping riches at the disposal of Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk that the Dutchman felt able to omit eight-cap Langerak from his final 26-man squad for this month’s friendlies against Norway and Colombia.

Current number one Mat Ryan got the nod, along with Feyenoord’s comeback keeper Brad Jones and Genk’s Danny Vukovic.

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Langerak, 29, has meanwhile hit the ground running with Nagoya, with two clean sheets and seven points from a possible nine, and will let his performances speak most eloquently for him in the countdown to Russia.

“We’ve had a good start to the season and the level here is unbelievable,” said Langerak.



“I’ve been pleasantly surprised and some of the things you see in training are phenomenal, especially how good they are in tight areas.

“But for me personally nothing changes, it doesn’t matter whether you’re playing in Europe in the Champions League or wherever.

“As a goalkeeper, your job is always the same - it’s how you deal with the situations of a striker one-on-one or an attacking player trying to put one in the corner.

“It’s about staying composed and doing the job when called upon.

“That’s what I’ve always tried to do and have been doing so far here in Japan.”

Langerak is no stranger to competition for the Socceroos jumper, and insists he will continue “embracing the situation” as the battle for spots intensifies.

“I’ve been around the squad for five years now and it’s going to be about putting your best foot forward leading into the World Cup,” he said.



“The boss will cast a wide net and if you do well you’re hopefully on the plane to Russia.”

Legendary Socceroos keeper Mark Schwarzer believes Langerak’s lack of match minutes in recent months have cost him, at least in the short term.

“His biggest problem (before moving to Japan) is he hasn’t been playing a lot of regular football,” he said.

“Hopefully he’s now found a home where he’ll be able to show his best football and what he can do.

“It’s all about building momentum and confidence.”

Langerak made 34 appearances as Stuttgart bounced straight back to the Bundesliga last season but a goalkeeping reshuffle saw him mysteriously allowed to head to La Liga, where he was unable to break through.

“It wasn’t the end of the world there and I knew an opportunity (elsewhere) would come,” said the former Borussia Dortmund gloveman.

“I had eight seasons in Europe where I experienced a lot and developed as a person and a player.



“When Nagoya came calling it didn’t take long to think about it. The level here is top class ... it doesn’t matter where you’re playing, it’s a matter of doing well.

“Coming here has been a breath of fresh air, and it’s something I’m embracing.”

Despite not featuring at Levante, Langerak worked long sessions with the goalkeeper coach to hone aspects of his game previously neglected.

“You always look at the positives. It was an interesting situation but I’m happy it’s led me here to Nagoya,” he said.

Langerak, who has a three-year contract, hasn’t written off an eventual return to Europe at some point.

“I’m always pushing myself and one day I’d like to go back,” he said.

“Its certainly not something I’m thinking about in the short-term.

“I’m really happy here and love how I’ve been received here.

“Four club officials came to visit me in Spain.

“From the first meeting I knew they really wanted me here and that really swayed me.”


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4 min read
Published 14 March 2018 at 5:32pm
By Dave Lewis