At home and missing football amid the coronavirus pandemic, Nagoya Grampus goalkeeper Mitch Langerak is eager for the return of the J1League.
The J1League and Japanese football have been suspended since February due to the COVID-19 crisis, which has wreaked havoc globally.
While South Korea’s K League kicked off behind closed doors on May 8, the J1League remains in limbo following the coronavirus outbreak, which has seen over 16,200 confirmed cases in Japan and 744 deaths.
Unlike the K League, the J1League had completed the opening round of fixtures before the 2020 season came to a halt almost three months ago.
Australia international and former Borussia Dortmund keeper Langerak told Stats Perform: “As far as we’re all aware, Japan has a bit of handle on things at the moment. It’s positive signs and the people in Japan are very cautious and disciplined, so they will always do the right things. We trust their judgement. Hopefully when the time is right, we will kick-off again.”
The 31-year-old, who swapped LaLiga’s Levante for Nagoya in 2018, added: “It’s difficult. The first two weeks was like ‘oh this is okay, we will have a week or two off and we’ll slow things down and make up those two games somewhere during the year so it’s not a big issue’. But now it’s been something like three months.
“We’ve played one game, when normally we might even be 13 games in. It’s difficult mentally because you’re spending a lot of time at home, you’re missing that feeling inside the change room with the team every day, that competitive nature. It’s quite hard not being able to have little skirmish or games in training, when you’re fighting to win. That’s something that I find quite challenging, just coasting and not really knowing when we’re going to get back into it, if this is going to drag on a bit longer.
“The thing is, everyone is in the same boat. Not just athletes, everybody. We’re all in this together. Everyone has their own little challenges. It definitely does make you realise how much you love the sport, the game, love going to training. Normally, you’re like ‘ah, we have training tomorrow, we have a double tomorrow’ or something like this. You sort of dread it, but now it’s like give me a double session, a triple, go on training camp, I don’t care I just want to get back out there.
“I guess it’s like that saying, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ and that’s quite true right now. I feel like everyone in society are wanting to go back to work as well to get back ingrained in society.”
Nagoya – who finished 13th last season, behind champions Yokohama F.Marinos – drew 1-1 at Vegalta Sendai on February 22 prior to the postponement.
“It’s difficult because we’re doing home training sessions via Zoom,” Langerak, winner of two Bundesliga titles and other domestic honours under Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund, said. “Everyday at 11am, the whole team is on Zoom. We’re doing certain workouts for an hour. Once that’s finished, we have a running program or different types of things.
“I have a bit of a home gym, so I do all of my work here after we do those Zoom meetings, it keeps me ticking over. I feel fit, I feel strong. Hopefully, as soon as we get the green light, we will be back on the training ground whether that’s in small groups or entire group together.”