Kewell returns in win over amateur side

Harry Kewell made a successful return to the playing field, playing 87 minutes of the Socceroos practice match against amateur side V.V. Kloetingen, based in the Zeeland district in southern Holland on Friday evening.

Harry Kewell made a successful return to the playing field, playing 87 minutes of the Socceroos practice match against amateur side V.V. Kloetingen, based in the Zeeland district in southern Holland on Friday evening.

The match, played on a picturesque evening in front of a terrific crowd of 3,500 fans, also proved successful for German-based striker Joshua Kennedy, who scored a second half hat-trick and was a towering presence up front alongside John Aloisi. The Socceroos won the match 8-1.

The Socceroos led 3-0 at the break, before finishing strongly late in the second half, with five goals with the home side grabbing a deserved consolation goal neat the end.

In was effectively a second eleven starting side, but featured the likes of Kewell, Tim Cahill, Aloisi and Greece hero Josip Skoko. The remaining 12 players, apart from the two keepers Mark Schwarzer and Zeljko Kalac, are likely to start against The Netherlands on Sunday in Rotterdam.

However the biggest surprise was the appearance of Kewell in the starting side, just one day after joining in his first session, following his rehabilitation from a groin injury, suffered in last month-s FA Cup final against West Ham.

The Liverpool winger looked comfortable in his return, showing some nice touches and moving freely throughout before fatigue finally set in late on. He even had time to score two goals and set up two.

After a fairly slow start, it was the home side that had the first chance of the match after six minutes, when an errant pass by Mark Milligan was picked up by Ronald Zuijdwegt, but Ante Covic came out to smother the shot.

Shortly after there were concerns for Cahill, who went down clutching his knee, but after five minutes on the sidelines, he decided to go back on. And it was the Everton midfielder who opened the scoring in the 17th minute, heading home Josip Skoko-s free kick from wide on the right.

Ten minutes later Kewell grabbed his first when he got a touch to a Mark Milligan cross, which the keeper could only deflect into the net.

A third arrived two minutes later, when Aloisi powered home a header from a pinpoint Stan Lazaridis cross. That is where the scoring finished for the half, although Kloetingen thought they had a goal just before half time, but was ruled away for offside.

The second half saw coach Guus Hiddink make two substitutions with Tony Popovic and Cahill replaced by two of the Under 23 players training with the squad in Neil Kilkenny and Kristian Sarkies.

Kennedy, who height saw him virtually win every contested high ball that came his way, showed he is equally adept on the ground, with his first goal in the 58th minute. Receiving a neat ball from Kewell, Kennedy fainted his marker to break clear into the box and then committed the keeper, before coolly placing his shot home.

He added a second goal in the 71st minute, when Sarkies brilliantly kept in a cross from Kilkenny and the Nurnberg-bound striker, neatly finished with a back heel from two yards out.

He didn-t have to wait long for his third; just a minute in fact, he rose unopposed to head home a corner.

Two minutes later, Aloisi scored his second goal, after Kewell unselfishly cut back the unmarked striker, when he can through in the box.

Kewell then made it 8-0, when he powered home a header from another pinpoint cross from Lazaridis.

However the day wouldn-t have been complete without a goal from the home side, who must be said fought hard right throughout, with Pinas capitalising on a shot that hit the post to tuck home with the packed ground erupting.

After the match, Socceroos assistant coach Graham Arnold was delighted with the return of Kewell to the playing field.

“To get a match under your belt is very important,” said Arnold of Kewell-s return. “Harry is on track now and we are very happy he is on track.”

Kewell himself was very positive after the match and happy with how things went.

“It was good. It was obviously my first 90 minutes in a long time, so it was just going through the paces today; I wasn-t going to be going at full strength.

“It was nice to go out there an enjoy it.”

Prior to the match, the boys enjoyed a spot of relaxation, by going for a spot of fishing. Fortunately for the fish the boys proved much better footballers than fisherman with only Arnold managing to catch a fish in the hour they spent on the water.

Match Details

VV Kloetingen 1 (Pinas 82-) Socceroos 8 (Cahill 17-, Kewell 27-/82-, Aloisi 29-/74-, Kennedy 58-/71-/72-)

Socceroos line-up: Ante Covic (gk); Tim Cahill (Kristian Sarkies h/t), Tony Popovic (Neil Kilkenny h/t), Josip Skoko, Harry Kewell (came off in 87-), Stan Lazaridis, John Aloisi, Michael Beauchamp, Archie Thompson (Kaz Patafta ?-), Josh Kennedy, Mark Milligan.

Cautions: Nil

Crowd: approx 3,500