Under fire from critics after Australia’s 4-0 thrashing by Germany at the World Cup, Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has accepted responsibility for some curious selections and tactics.
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Verbeek played several players out of position, left out some regular starters and went into the match without a recognized striker.
The changes backfired as Australia was routed by an impressive Germany team which could have scored several more goals if not for some glaring misses.
Seemingly intent on grinding out a draw, Verbeek left out target-man forward Josh Kennedy and regular attacking midfielder Mark Bresciano despite both being regulars in lead-up games, while star forward Harry Kewell never came off the bench.
"If you lose 4-0 you can always say it didn’t help, but nobody can prove we would have won if we had those players on the field," Verbeek said.
"They (Kennedy and Bresciano) didn’t do well in the last two games. They didn’t do well in training – not well enough. The players who were on the field were the better players – that’s the reality."
Verbeek said he had intended to bring Kewell on, but abandoned that plan after midfielder Tim Cahill was sent off early in the second half.
The defensive formation and unusual selections – including regular central midfielder Jason Culina being played on the left wing and midfielder Richard Garcia being played in an advanced position – brought stinging criticism in Australia.
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper headlined its story ‘Utter Disaster’, and castigated the coach for making selection gambles in his first World Cup match.
Former Australia goalkeeper Mark Bosnich expressed sympathy for fans who had traveled to South Africa.
"These people have paid good money to come out here and they deserve a good performance against Ghana (in the next group game)," Bosnich said.
The ex-Aston Villa, Manchester United and Chelsea keeper said it was time for the taciturn Verbeek to be more transparent in his public comments and explanations.
"Verbeek has to come clean, he has to bring down this Berlin Wall and start giving people some answers, because while we will cop losing, it’s the manner in which you accept a loss that counts," Bosnich said.