Australia – @ModernGK
Since 2006 the Australian Football Federation (FFA) introduced a new national curriculum. Their mandate was for our national teams to play a proactive, possession based game and with that the role of the goalkeeper changed overnight.
The requirements from the modern day Australian goalkeeper now include the ability to play with their feet being just as important as the use of their hands because of the high emphasis on possession football. Gone are the aim long kicks up field as playing out from the back and keeping possession in the defensive third has become the norm.
Long time Socceroos custodian Mark Schwarzer announced his international retirement just seven months from his third World Cup, this left many wondering who will be the man to fill his void?
Four months on, it appears one goalkeeper has put his name on top of the list – 21-year-old Mathew Ryan.
GK – Mat Ryan
AGE – 21
CLUB – Club Bruges
CAPS – 5
Ryan was awarded with his first international cap against Korea DPR in their 2013 East Asian Cup qualification match in late 2012 after being part of the Australian u23 Olympic side.
Ryan made the move to Belgium’s Pro League with Club Brugge this season and has been a regular starter in goals, giving him a huge advantage over other rival goalkeepers for the number 1 spot.
While only standing at 184cm, Ryan makes up for his smaller size with agility and speed. He is very strong in the 1v1 situations and most importantly, the ability to play with his feet makes him a perfect fit for the current national team and is almost certain to be the starting goalkeeper at the 2014 World Cup.
Working in Ryans favour is that none of his competitors are playing regular 1st team football in any of the top leagues in Europe and while Mitch Langerak, who is the regular 2nd choice at Borrusia Dortmund appears to be on the plane to Brazil, picking the 3rd goalkeeper to part of the World Cup squad is almost a lottery.
GK – Mitch Langerak
AGE – 25
CLUB – Borrusia Dortmund
CAPS – 3
Standing at 191cm tall, Mitch has a fantastic physique for a goalkeeper and takes full advantage of that with his shot stopping ability. While having the ability to be the number goalkeeper, not being able to play regular football at a high level will work against Langerak in trying to win the starting spot in goals.
Brad Jones, current Liverpool second choice goalkeeper has been part of recent national team squads and looks like to be the strongest contender for the third goalkeeper spot available for the World Cup.
GK – Brad Jones
AGE – 31
CLUB – Liverpool
CAPS – 4
Also standing at 191cm, Jones has proven to be a good shot stopper and is probably the most experienced goalkeeper at European level Australia has but never has been able to cement a starting spot at club or international level. Jones is not as skilled at keeping possession with his feet as some of the other goalkeepers which could work against him as new national team coach Ange Postecoglou has a high possession game style.
Other possible contenders for the goalkeeper places are Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici (8 Caps), Vegalta Sendai’s (Japan) Danny Vukovic (0 Caps) and a host of others playing in the Australian A-League competition.
While Ryan and Langerak are almost certainties, the third goalkeeper to make up the goalkeeping stable is anyones guess as there are no clear stand out performers.