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In-form keeper Langerak back in Cup mix

Mitch Langerak was like every other Australian soccer fan watching that penalty shootout against Peru.

The long-time custodian, based in Japan with his young family, had retired from the international game and was riding every kick and save in the Qatar World Cup qualifier.

“Unbelievable … it (the broadcast) sort of skipped for one of the penalties and I was on the floor,” he told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday.

“Watching it (as a fan), you revert back to a little boy; set your alarm and get up to watch.

“You get nervous and you’re pumped to watch it … we were all 12, 13 year-olds watching Harry (Kewell) and Timmy (Cahill).”

That upset defeat of Peru impacted Langerak more than the average fan, though.

With Japan finally relaxing their strict COVID-19 restrictions he was able to reconsider international retirement and has now been welcomed back into the fold ahead of November’s World Cup.

“I knew I was walking away from the chance … it wasn’t going to work for me and our family and you have to be honest with yourself and have difficult conversations,” Langerak said of his initial decision.

“Before I called him (coach Graham Arnold) I was nervous, not sure how it’d go.

“Getting off the phone I was like, ‘What a guy’.

“(It was) unbelievable how he understood the situation, and then when he called me again (to say he was part of the 31-man squad) it was the same.

“On a personal level he really gets it.”

An unused deputy to Maty Ryan at Brazil’s 2014 showpiece, Langerak was a regular in the 2018 qualification campaign but not selected to tour Russia.

Originally stuck behind Mark Schwarzer, Langerak has appeared for Australia just eight times since debuting in 2013.

But suddenly he’s genuinely back in the mix, likely to represent his country for the first time in his home state on Thursday when Australia hosts New Zealand in Brisbane.

Ryan is captain and crucially back playing regular minutes with Danish Superliga giants FC Copenhagen after battling for minutes at Real Sociedad and Arsenal.

Langerak left the A-League for Germany’s Borussia Dortmund in 2010 and has been a favourite at Japan’s Nagoya Grampus since 2018, winning the J.League Cup last year.

He says that’s helped him become a more well-rounded package and will use the Suncorp Stadium friendly to push his case.

“Definitely I’ve improved (thanks to) five years (in Japan) of just playing every week,” Langerak said.

“I’m constantly learning and enjoying watching my games back, picking up my mistakes and trying to fix things.

“I’m just here to push as hard as I can to be in that final selection.”

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