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Langerak out of retirement, named in Socceroos squad




Goalkeeper Mitch Langerak has backflipped on international retirement and will join a 31-man Socceroos squad for looming games against New Zealand.

The 34-year-old Langerak was named in a squad that features seven newcomers, including Central Coast Mariners teenager Garang Kuol.

Australia will play NZ on September 22 in Brisbane and September 25 in Auckland. The friendlies are Australia’s last games ahead of naming a 26-man squad for the World Cup in Qatar starting in late November.

Japan-based Langerak, capped eight times and a member of Australia’s 2014 World Cup squad, quit international football last May during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When I had made the decision to retire we were in the middle of strict lockdowns in Japan,” Langerak said on Wednesday.

“At the time, I was facing the prospect of spending months away from my wife and young children, so I had to make the hard call to step away from international football.

“I am grateful for another opportunity. It was tough watching the team from afar.”

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold

“After speaking with Mitch, I understood his decision at the time was made for family reasons and the unique circumstances where he is living in Japan, which had strict protocols in place during the COVID pandemic. We value him highly both as a person and a player, and he continues to perform at a high level in the J-League,” Socceroos coach Graham Arnold explained.

“When we won games, I’d get a text from Mitch saying ‘congrats’ and we knew that he was watching from afar.

“He’s been in Japan, he’s been playing well, he’s had a lot of football at Nagoya, and we want to build depth for that goalkeeping position. That’s why I went down that avenue of bringing him back.”

Graham Arnold

Graham Arnold. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Mariners’ 17-year-old sensation Kuol is among the squad newcomers, along with his A-League Men’s teammate Jason Cummings, who was born in Scotland but is eligible to play for Australia.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics squad members Keanu Baccus, Cameron Devlin, Ryan Strain and Tyrese Francois, as well as Korean-based defender Harrison Delbridge also join a Socceroos squad for the first time. Tokyo Olympian Thomas Deng rejoins the Socceroos squad for the first time since 2018.

But midfielder Tom Rogic, who left the squad late in Australia’s World Cup qualification campaign for personal reasons, isn’t in a squad announced a day after he confirmed a move to English Championship outfit West Bromwich Albion.
Neither are Adelaide United captain Craig Goodwin, Scottish-based defender Kye Rowles and Nick D’Agostino who were all part of the Socceroos’ squad for their final qualification games for the World Cup.

Arnold said he was casting his net wide ahead of settling a 26-man squad for the World Cup to be named by November 13.

“This camp provides us with a unique opportunity to bring in some new players who can push for selection ahead of the World Cup,” Arnold said.

“The incentive couldn’t be bigger.”

The Socceroos play France (November 23), Tunisia (November 26) and Denmark (December 1) at the World Cup.
Australia’s squad:
Mathew Ryan (capt), Nathaniel Atkinson, Keanu Baccus, Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Jason Cummings, Harrison Delbridge, Milos Degenek, Thomas Deng,
Cameron Devlin, Mitch Duke, Tyrese Francois, Denis Genreau, Ajdin Hrustic,
Jackson Irivine, Fran Karacic, Joel King, Garang Kuol, Mitch Langerak, Mathew Leckie, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Riley McGree,
Connor Metcalfe, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Redmayne, Trent Sainsbury, Ryan Strain, Adam Taggart, Marco Tilio, Bailey Wright.

© AAP





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