Coach takes responsibility for Australia loss
Savaged by 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.
Verbeek played several players out of position, left out some
regular starters and went into the match without a recognized
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.
“I never blame my players,” Verbeek said. “I always look in
the mirror and think what decisions I made. I have no problem in
taking responsibility for the result.”
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 – who declared himself fit after a groin
injury – 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,”
“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
Verbeek said he had intended to bring Kewell on, but abandoned
that plan after midfielder Tim Cahill was sent off early in the
The defensive formation and unusual selections – including
regular central midfielder Jason Culina being played on the left
wing and midfielder Richard Garcia 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.
Verbeek’s selections bewildered the Germans.
“We were wondering why Joshua Kennedy wasn’t playing,”
defender Arne Friedrich said. “They made it relatively easy for
Germany coach Joachim Loew was scathing in his assessment of
“The Australians were rather defensive in their play, so we
tried to change the pace of the game,” Loew said. “If a team
defends with ten players then you have to be careful with your
“We decided to keep the ball low and create problems for their
defense. Australia is not the ultimate benchmark. We face tougher
opponents, even though Australia has been strong in the past.”
Verbeek announced in March that he would be leaving Australia
immediately after the World Cup to take up a position as youth
technical director in Morocco. It was a move seen as lacking
ambition in Australia but comes with a lower glare for a man not
always comfortable in the spotlight.
The 54-year-old started his coaching career in his native
Netherlands and enjoyed his first international experience as Guus
Hiddink’s assistant as South Korea reached the semifinals of the
2002 World Cup. Hiddink became a national hero in Australia when he
led it into the second round in 2006.
Verbeek took over as head coach of South Korea and then went to
Australia only after first choice Dick Advocaat jilted the
Socceroos at the last minute, despite agreeing to terms.
Verbeek favored a defensive system which brought him many
critics within the media and Socceroos’ fan base.
In Asian qualifying, Australia’s defenders kept 12 clean sheets,
but their old guard was found out Sunday.
“They had so many runners,” said 34-year-old defender Craig
Moore. “At times I felt I was between two or three players. That’s
very hard. Their movement was very good.”