Fitness concerns for Verbeek

Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek will leave the final decision on his starting line-up till possibly as late as tomorrow morning, with several fitness concerns ahead of the match against Uzbekistan at Stadium Australia tomorrow night.

Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek will leave the final decision on his starting line-up till possibly as late as tomorrow morning, with several fitness concerns ahead of the match against Uzbekistan at Stadium Australia tomorrow night.

Mark Bresciano, Tim Cahill, Michael Beauchamp and Carl Valeri have all had interrupted training during the week and while Verbeek said all trained solidly in the main session on Monday morning, he will wait to see how they pull up after Tuesday afternoons light session before making a final decision.

All four are likely starting players, hence why Verbeek is keen to leave the decision for as long as possible with Bresciano (back) and Cahill (calf) both missing matches with their club prior to coming into camp.

Verbeek-s main concern is their ability to possibly see out 90 minutes

“I had every player on the field for the first time yesterday,” he told the media at the official match press conference before Wednesday-s match. “So I know what I am going to do tomorrow (Wednesday); it all depends on the physical fitness of some of the players.

“That-s the only question I have for this whole camp and that-s how fit are the players to play for 90 minutes and how many risks I am going to take bringing too many players on the field, who might be not playing 90 minutes.

“It-s not about the quality of my team; it-s all about can they play 90 minutes and I will make that decision tonight.”

Verbeek clearly welcomed the chance to spend a week with the players and believes it has made a huge difference.

“It makes a big difference, because the last games you can really only look at them and think he can play as a striker; he can play in midfield and they go out and hopefully play.

“But I have had the whole week to find out if players are really fit enough to play; I can look at the best balanced, combination of players and that makes a big difference.

“My feeling is the boys are ready.”

One player that Verbeek was extremely impressed with is Harry Kewell, saying he has never seen him looking better since his time in charge of the Socceroos.

“If he starts, yes; I am sure he can play 90 minutes,” when asked about Kewell. “Harry is fitter than ever and is really eager to be part of the team tomorrow night.

"This is the best Harry Kewell I've seen since I am here; physically, mentally, so I think Turkey is being very good for him at the moment.”

Asked if he learnt anything new from Uzbekistan-s thumping 4-0 win over Qatar, Verbeek wasn-t really letting on if he did or not.

No, I said from the start that Uzbekistan will be a very difficult team to play against and they showed that again on Saturday. We knew they would be good; we knew they were unlucky in the previous games, losing games when they were the much better team.

“They showed themselves on Saturday and that gives us and everybody else an idea that it will definitely not be an easy game and we will have to give everything if we want to win the game.

“We are good enough to beat Uzbekistan, but we will have to work very hard and play at our best.”

As for the threat of young striker Farhod Fadjivev, whose hat-trick of headers has made him a player to watch on Wednesday, although he comes here having suffered a hamstring injury late in the match.

“Is he a threat? Of course, I think if you score three goals in a game then you have to careful with a player like that. But they are all good players, I am not surprised by the quality of the team, I am not surprised by the result (on Saturday).

“If you look at what I said last week, they were unlucky and again they bring other players on the field all the time and they went well. We have to wait and see how they will be after the tough game on Saturday and then after all the travelling they have to make, but they are back in the race and that makes them a very dangerous opponent.”

With so much talk of Australia needing to attack and score goals, Verbeek couldn-t hold back with a dig.

“My plan is to put 6 strikers on the field; not worry about defending at all and hopefully it will finish 6-6 and everyone will be happy, except me.

“I am here to win the game; I like to win with many goals, but first let-s go for the win and that-s all I am worried about.”

Meanwhile Verbeek-s counterpart Mirdjalal Kasimov was unable to attend the press conference after falling ill following the flight.

But the team-s manager said they will start with their strongest 11 players including hopefully key midfielder Server Djeparov and striker Tadjivev, who are under injury clouds.

He also said that a top-two finish was unrealistic and that they are focusing on making sure they can finish in the third-place play-off, although they would be doing everything they can to win on Wednesday night.

Tickets are still available for the match against Uzbekistan. To purchase your tickets, go to or phone on 132 849 or they can be purchased from all Ticketek outlets.

*ANZ Stadium referred to original name of Stadium Australia, due to rules of Asian Football Confederation.