Sport Football Socceroo Mat Ryan won’t be caught star-gazing

Socceroo Mat Ryan won’t be caught star-gazing

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Socceroos shot-stopper Mat Ryan will be playing the ball, rather than the man, when some of the greatest attackers on the planet come charging at him in Brazil.

First up are Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas when Australia open their World Cup campaign against Chile on Friday (Saturday morning AEST).

Further down the track, Ryan will confront the likes of Dutchman Robin van Persie and Spanish superstar Andres Iniesta.

But he insists there will be no time for star-gazing.

“You have the likes of Alex Sanchez who plays for the best club in the world at Barcelona,” said Ryan,

“You use those sorts of guys playing FIFA and you see them in footballing headlines all over the word so it is a little bit daunting.

“But you have no time come the day of the match to be in awe of them, because if that happens I’ll probably be kicking the ball out of the net.

“So I’ll just have to do my best to look at the ball and not at the player to see who it is and hopefully I can stop the ball from going in.”

With the Socceroos to also face the Netherlands and Spain, the raid on their defence is set to continue.

But Ryan, who was named goalkeeper of the year in the Belgian top flight for his standout campaign with Club Brugge, says he can’t wait to confront the assault.

“I definitely thrive on that – stopping a shot from the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Andres Iniesta or Robin van Persie,” he said.

“After the World Cup when I can reflect on my performances, hopefully they haven’t put a few past me and I can say that I’ve saved more than they’ve scored.”

After weeks of what Ryan described as brutal training the Socceroos were given their first day off since arriving to Brazil late last month.

In a rare treat, they got to leave the confines of their hotel and wander to a local cafe.

While the physical intensity may have dropped off, the tactical work is ramping up.

“The goalkeepers did a video session yesterday and we did a team video session last night and have another one tonight,” Ryan said.

“So we’re getting all the research out of the way and to make sure we know what we’re expecting from Chile and for us players to learn the gameplan that the coaching staff and the technical staff are putting together.”

But all the research and advice will count for nothing on game day if the Australians aren’t ready to back it up with actions.

“Words can only go so far,” he said.

“So now for my sake I have to go out there and back my ability to do the job for the team and for the country.”