Mitch Langerak is unsure if he's unseated Mat Ryan as Australia's first-choice goalkeeper but admits his call-up to face Iraq came as a surprise.
25 Mar 2017 - 6:41 AM  UPDATED 25 Mar 2017 - 6:41 AM

In a match where coach Ange Postecoglou gave the Socceroos' selection picture an almighty shake-up, his decision to start Langerak ahead of Ryan for the 1-1 draw in Tehran was perhaps the biggest shock of them all.

Ryan has done little wrong on the road to Russia but Langerak - who has started every match this season for Bundesliga promotion contenders Stuttgart - has been knocking at the door for a while.

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The 28-year-old took his opportunity with both hands, keeping the Socceroos in the game with several strong saves.

"It was a little bit of a surprise but in no way was I not prepared or anything like that," he said.

"As a goalkeeper you train from a very young age to be aware that you can come in at any moment in any game and also starting."

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Langerak had not started for Australia since October 2014 and his only match involvement since then was off the bench in a game against FYR Macedonia.

He only found out he would be facing Iraq on the day of the game, which became a slog due to a horrendous surface at PAS Stadium and constant showers.

"It's not something you'd like to wake up to in the morning of the game and see that it's been raining all night," he said.

"The pitch was a disaster, it was all very difficult. I spoke to the back three a few times, we just agreed any backpasses we'd put outside the goal because it was a mudbath there.

"Every time I had the ball under my foot in the centre of the goal, I had to try and get it wide into some decent grass to be able to strike it. It certainly wasn't easy."

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Postecoglou said his decision to go with Langerak was based on the team's new 3-4-3 system, which is vulnerable to attacks out wide, with the rationale that the former Melbourne Victory shotstopper's strong aerial ability was what they needed.

But whether he sticks with him for Tuesday's crunch clash with the United Arab Emirates in Sydney remains to be seen.

"He picks his line-up he thinks will get the job done on that day. It's in three days' time, I'm not even thinking about that at the moment," Langerak said.