Mitch primed for semi-final
MELBOURNE Victory custodian Mitch Langerak could only watch as two magnificent strikes whistled past him into the net last Sunday.
The 2-0 loss to Sydney FC handed the New South Wales club the premiership, relegated the Victory to second and set up an intense semi-final between the two sides tonight at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.
It will be the biggest occasion in former Bundaberg boy Langerak’s career, but well-deserved after forcing his way into the starting line up midway through the season.
“I’m so happy to have this chance and playing on a stage like this really fast-tracks your career because how you perform on the big stage is what people are really interested in,” he said.
The former Across The Waves keeper admitted his side was always “up against it” in the weekend’s loss, missing heavyweights Kevin Muscat, Archie Thompson and Matthew Kemp.
But the return of two of them may sway the advantage in their favour.
“Having Matthew back in defence will be massive for me. He is always in control and so confident,” Langerak said.
Muscat will also return but Thompson and young striker Robbie Kruse will miss the first of a two-game home and away series.
Three fiery clashes this season have all gone in favour of Sydney on the scoreboard, but Langerak said it was the Victory’s time to win.
“We’ve been creating chances and that’s the most important thing,” he said.
“The two sides are always at each other, hopefully it won’t get spiteful and I think the players are sensible enough to not get out of hand.”
Langerak will play tonight, before heading to China for their first Champion’s League game against Beijing, and returning for the away clash with Sydney.
It is a hectic schedule and the keeper admitted it was hard to keep up.
“It’s always difficult (to stay fresh), especially with a small squad, but it’s part and parcel of the A League,” he said. “We need to stay grounded, be happy with where we are sitting and continue to play our best football.”
The game is live on Fox Sports 1 at 7.30 tonight.