Olyroos goalkeeper: Europe is making me a better player

Olyroos goalkeeper Jack Duncan may not have played a competitive match with new club Randers but believes being in Europe is already making him a better player.

Duncan, 22, joined Randers from Perth Glory in the off-season after a successful trial in January.

He was joined at Randers by long-time friend and Olyroos teammate Mustafa Amini in June. While Amini hit the ground running prior to his red card a fortnight ago, Duncan is yet to play, but has thrived in his new environment.

“The intensity was one of the main things I noticed coming over here to trial in January,” Duncan told FourFourTwo.

“People say being in Europe is where everyone wants to be and I couldn’t agree more.

“It’s so competitive, everyone is pushing each other, everyone is looking for scouts visiting, everything like that. It’s a whole other level.

“I’m improving even just from the training environment. I can feel it already impacting my game.”

The Perth-born stopper has been second choice to Sweden international Karl-Johan Johnsson at Randers, but is ambitious about breaking through as No.1.

“You’ve got to back yourself in,” he said. “I want to try and get some games in, whether that’s in the cup to begin with.

“That competition with Johnsson is only going to make us both better. It’s a really healthy training environment.

“The coach has got his settled XI at the moment, but that can change as the season goes on. I’m just hoping for a chance and to take that when it comes.

There’s a long list of Australian goalkeepers who have enjoyed long and successful European careers after extended periods as an understudy, which enthuses Duncan who was backup at Glory too.

“People think you’re a backup keeper, it’s the easy life, but it’s full-on. You always have to be ready,” he said.

“You might get one chance during the year and you’ve really got to take it when you get that chance.”

Duncan and Amini have also been dreaming about competing together at next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The Olyroos squad for next month’s game against Turkey is expected to be announced in the next week.

The get-together is all part of the Olyroos’ preparations for January’s AFC Under-23 Championship in Qatar which will decide if Australia qualifies for the global showpiece.

Aurelio Vidmar’s side are also expected to face Macedonia and South Korea in October and November camps respectively to ensure they’re as prepared as possible after missing out on London 2012.

“We watched Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Portugal all qualify in the Euros on TV,” Duncan told FourFourTwo. “We were just thinking that could be us come January.

“We’ve both been really pushing each other in training and joking around saying we could face Zlatan Ibrahimovic if he plays for Sweden at the Olympics.

“Musti and I have got a good friendship, we’ve known each other for a long time, so we’d love to qualify together.”

Olyroos’ commitments won’t get in the way for Randers’ Aussies either, with the Danish Superliga pausing for a two-and-a-half month winter break from early December to late February when the AFC Under-23 Championships are on.

“It works perfectly with not missing any games here and to fully focus on that Olyroos campaign,” Duncan said.

Randers are next in action in Superliga on Sunday against Viborg.