No excuses for Socceroos

Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has said his squad has no excuses ahead of Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Iraq at Suncorp Stadium.

Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has said his squad has no excuses ahead of Sunday-s World Cup qualifier against Iraq at Suncorp Stadium.

Verbeek mentioned the word ‘prepared- a lot in his final press conference, giving every indication his team is ready for the task at hand, despite the distractions of the past week, which saw the match not officially confirmed as going ahead till Thursday.

For Verbeek having had a good full week to work with his squad is the longest he has had with his team since he took over and he believes they are full prepared for the expected tough clash the Asian champions will provide.

“I am having the time of my life,” he said. “If you compare it to Qatar, where I had one day and China; where three days before the game, we missed seven players; that was tough.

“So there are no excuses, we-ve had a very good training camp and everybody-s ready, so there is nothing to hide and time to show ourselves.

“I think it will be a fantastic game. The stadium is of course beautiful; it-s full and I think everybody is looking forward to this game; our players; the Iraqi players; it-s a game, a very important game, so it will be very interesting.”

Verbeek has singed the praises of his teams professionalism during the week and he wasn-t letting up, giving the impression he has every faith in his team to do the job and what to expect from the opposition.

“They did very well the whole week even when all the fuss was about; they were very professional; trained hard and our experience you will see on the day of the game. I think tomorrow they will be in the right mood to play the game.”

“We know what we have to do and that is win this game tomorrow,” he said forthrightly. “Maybe it-s good we lost at the Asian Cup, so they know they can never underestimate Iraq; you should not underestimate Iraq at all, because they were the Asian Cup winner.

“They deserved to win that game and tournament, so we are prepared and know what to expect.”

Verbeek reiterated his belief that Iraq, through past experiences, will come to play for a draw and hope to pinch a goal. He also urged patience by his players.

“They will come with one striker and they will defend and wait and wait and wait, until they get one or two chances and if they can score one goal they will be very happy.

“They will defend, we will attack and it-s our job to be alert; to concentrate so that we don-t give counter possibilities away. The chances we create we have to finish them, because we will not get many chances.

“Patience, that-s what you have to do against teams like this. They are very dangerous on the counters; that-s the way they like to play. We all know their striker and how good he is and what he can do; our players all know that and we are prepared for that.

“Patience is the best word. But we have to attack; we have to win the game.

“(The) Iraqi-s they are mentally tough; physically tough, so they will never give up till the moment they are completely gone. We have to prepare for two very tough games. If you win the game tomorrow, you take an unbelievably big step, that-s for sure and then we have to finish it off in one of the last three games.”

The Dutchmen also confirmed that Harry Kewell will be captain for the clash and that he will be looking for his special qualities during the game.

“Harry will be captain. I am quite a lucky man, because I had a lot of possibilities with experienced players - Vince Grella, Mark Schwarzer and Brett Emerton - they are all guys who did a lot of work and a great job for the national team already.

“Harry is a fantastic player. The Harry I have seen in these two weeks, compared to Harry I had in Singapore is 100% difference.

“The climate was different and at that time he was struggling a little bit, mentally and physically. At the moment, he is fit; he-s ready; he-s very good in the group; he-s trained in every session from the first to the last minute; extra training, so I think he wants to show (what he can do).

“He is as important as all the other players, but he has some special qualities and he has to use his special qualities and the rest of the team has to take care that he can use his special qualities.”

While he knows his starting eleven, Verbeek has cut his squad to 24, with nine players to stay in camp, but will not be involved in tomorrow-s game.

And the final word!

“We are very confident we can win the game, but we have to give everything.”