Aussie shot stopper Langerak makes history to lead Nagoya into Asia

Mitch Langerak in action for Nagoya Grampus Source: J.League

It was close with some fine saves and the woodwork helping out but on Saturday, Mitch Langerak kept his 17th clean sheet of the season for Nagoya Grampus to set a new J.League record.

The Australian shot-stopper was in typically fine form as Nagoya defeated Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 on the final day of the season to not just make history but to secure third spot for the Aichi club and a place in the 2021 AFC Champions League.

Langerak had to make a number of saves to keep out Hiroshima and it meant that when Naoki Maeda fired home from outside the area with four minutes remaining, it was enough to win the game and secure the all-important top three finish.

Japenese media called the 32-year-old Queenslander the driving force behind Nagoya’s impressive defensive record, the team conceded just 28 goals this season, the lowest in the league, but Langerak stayed typically modest. 

“It is not just about me,” said Langerak, who received an award from the fans for his season performances in a ceremony after the game... “I have to thank the rest of the team for doing such a good job”.

The goalkeeper has helped to ensure that coach Massimo Ficcadenti stays around for 2021. President Koko Konishi said after the game, "I would like to move forward with the coach and the players who will be here next year, aiming for new heights.”

With calls on social media for Langerak to be named in the J.League team of the season, it remains to be seen if such stellar form will earn the former Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper a recall to the Socceroos when qualification for the 2022 World Cup resumes in March.

 

Langerak was called up recently by Graham Arnold but has not actually made an international appearance since 2017.

Elsewhere, 2019 champions Yokohama F.Marinos ended a disappointing campaign with a 3-1 loss to local rivals Yokohama FC.

The derby defeat, the first loss in this fixture for 13 years, means that Ange Postecoglou ends his third season in charge with a ninth-place finish, one spot higher than fellow Aussie Thomas Deng with Urawa Reds.