The Socceroos are continuing preparations for their upcoming clash against Costa Rica, who they’ll host in Sydney this Tuesday night. It is new head coach Ange Postecoglou’s first training camp with the national side and with the FIFA World Cup now less than 12 months away, competition is fierce to grab a spot in the starting side.
One of the most hotly contested positions will no doubt be that of goalkepper, with young guns Mitch Langerak and Mat Ryan both in the running to become Mark Schwarzer’s long-term successor. Both are currently playing their club football in Europe, in the German and Belgium domestic leagues respectively. While the task of taking over the mantle as Australia’s new No.1 gloveman from our most capped Socceroo will be no easy feat both contenders are convinced they’re up to the task.
Langerak, who did his apprenticeship at Melbourne Victory now finds himself in a squad playing in the dizzy heights of the Champions League. Borussia Dortmund are one of the top club’s in Europe having made last year’s final and while the 25-year-old has had to bide a lot of time on the bench as an understudy he believes his experience of playing at the highest level will stand him in good stead.
“I've played a few games, and some of them quite big – that helps your character and helps you as a footballer, to know you can go out there in front of a big crowd and to do it,” said Langerak.
“I've even surprised myself with some of the things that I've done since moving there, and can definitely feel myself developing as a player.”
Ryan meanwhile is currently plying his trade for Club Brugge and has the advantage of being his club’s first-choice goalkeeper. The fact that he is playing regularly may give him the edge in this tight battle. The former Central Coast Mariner custodian paid tribute to the legacy left by Schwarzer and is determined not to get too far ahead of himself.
“He’s made that spot his own for the last decade or so and rightly so,” said Mat Ryan. “We didn’t start thinking ahead to the World Cup and the possibility of not only being involved in the squad but playing at a World Cup.
“There’s a long period to go before then and we’ve just got to stay grounded and keep focused on the present and work hard during our time here.”
There’s every chance that both goalkeepers will each play half a game when the Socceroos take on the Costa Ricans on Tuesday night. Currently ranked 31 in the world, the Central Americans will surely provide a stern test for whoever finds themselves between the posts. The Socceroos as a whole will be hoping to turn around their recent form on the international stage in front of their home fans.
We’ll have the match playing live and on the big screen from 7.00pm this Tuesday night, so if you’re not going to the game make sure you join us for the great atmosphere at Strathfield Sports Club whenever one of our national teams go into battle.