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Langerak, Ryan set for shootout

14 November 2013-SBS: Philip Micallef

Goalkeepers Mitch Langerak (L) and Mat Ryan (R) are vying for the Socceroos number one spot.

Contenders ... Goalkeepers Mitch Langerak (left) and Mat Ryan are vying for the Socceroos No 1 spot (Getty)

Mitch Langerak and Mat Ryan are sharpening their skills for a shootout to determine who will be the successor of Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

The shock international retirement of the 109-cap legend has opened the door for the two young custodians to cement their spot in the team with the 2014 FIFA Word Cup seven months away.

The international match against Costa Rica at Allianz Stadium on Tuesday should provide a strong pointer as to who coach Ange Postecoglou might lean on.

Langerak is the No 2 goalkeeper at German giant Borussia Dortmund while Ryan plays regularly for Belgium's Club Brugge.

Both have risen to prominence since leaving the A-League, where they played for Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners, respectively.

With Schwarzer gone, they are now on the cusp of realising every footballer's dream and play in a World Cup.

"Schwarzy has been an icon of the game," Ryan, 21, said.

"He has set such a high standard in the goalkeeper's role and now hopefully for a few years to come Mitch and I are just privileged to be in this first camp after his retirement.

"We are both working hard and concentrating on what we do best and everything else will sort itself out.”

Langerak, 25, said he fully realised that stepping in for such a star goalkeeper would provide him and Ryan with a huge challenge.

"It goes without saying that Schwarzy's boots are big ones to fill," he said.

"We know what he's done in the last 15 years for the national team and it (replacing him) is quite daunting.

"But we are in a position where we are working and training every day at good clubs so we are on the pace and ready to step in and I'm sure that it won't take long for either of us or other goalkeepers will make their stamp on the team."

It is every Australian footballer's ambition to play in Europe.

Langerak and Ryan are no different but it would have taken a degree of courage to quit the A-League where they held regular spots to go on a journey into the unknown.

Both goalkeepers' calculated risk seems to have paid off.

"I'm pretty happy with my transition to European football,” Ryan said.

"I'm a bit different to Mitch because I stuck around here for three seasons and I was fortunate enough to go to Bruges with a bit of experience under my belt.

"For the second time in my career the first-choice goalkeeper got a bit of an injury which proved me with an opportunity and so far I've taken it because I'm happy with the way I've been going.

"It's a long way to go but I'm content with where I'm at at the moment."

Langerak said he was aware that opting to go abroad would be a gamble.

"Going overseas was always going to be a ballot wherever you go," he said.

"For me it's been very good, I'm happy with where I am and how it has developed.

"I'm satisfied with my progress and I can definitely see that every time I come back into camp and see myself growing as a keeper.

"It was fantastic to start off in the A-League. You can see the quality.

"It is getting better and providing a good platform and I'm sure there is going to be more boys coming to Europe."

Langerak and Ryan have developed a friendship that is not likely to be stretched by the forthcoming battle to be No 1 for Australia.

"Australia has always been blessed with quality goalkeepers and we would like to think that we can carry on Schwarzy's benchmark," Ryan said.

"We goalkeepers all get on well on and off the pitch. We just work hard and try to get the best out of one another so the best man gets the job."

Langerak said the friendship between him and Ryan, unlike the testy relationship that existed between Schwarzer and Zeljko Kalac during the 2006 World Cup, would make everything so much easier for the two.

"We both want to be No 1 and it makes no sense to have an unhealthy rivalry because it is not going to help the team in the long term," he said.

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