Schwarzer pivotal in win once again

Not for the first time during these AFC 2010 World Cup qualifiers, did Mark Schwarzer play a pivotal role in helping Australia get the result it desperately craved.

Not for the first time during these AFC 2010 World Cup qualifiers, did Mark Schwarzer play a pivotal role in helping Australia get the result it desperately craved.

While the 3-1 win over Qatar sounds like a comprehensive win on Saturday night, Schwarzer, especially in the first half, was tested several times by Qatar striker Sebastian Quintana and midfielder Fabio Cesar Montesin. On each occasion, Schwarzer came up strong and his positioning was its usual high standard that if he was beaten, the Qatari-s were usually forced to shoot wide.

Save his supposed (harsh) error of judgement against Iraq in Dubai, Schwarzer would have to be among the pick of Australia-s best players during the qualifiers and there is no doubt that his presence will be missed in Sydney next week, when he sits out the China match through suspension.

Having survived Saturday night and ensuring their place in the next phase of qualifiers, the 35-year-old was obviously very happy after the game.

“Very delighted; it was a tough game,” he said. “We knew it was going to be tough and we knew if we could win the game, we could make it sure for us to get through to the next round, which is obviously the main goal.

“The performance today I think was fantastic and we deserved to go through.

Having scored early, the Socceroos had to survive a testing 20-minute period prior to half time that kept them in front at the break, with Schwarzer in the thick of the action.

“We knew the big boy (Quintana) didn-t play in Melbourne; we knew he was back and that he had scored some goals before.

“He is a big guy and they always look for him at set pieces; he is skilful and all the danger did come through him. I think Jade North and Michael Beauchamp did very, very well against him.

“We defended very well; we held the ball very well; attacked very well; countered very well and I think that showed in the end result.”

The result also confirmed that Australia-s players are starting to get the hang of the extreme conditions they will face in Asia, although the ten days preparation did certainly help with this.

“Definitely,” he said when asked if this has been a good learning process for the team. “I think last year from the Asian Cup we learnt a hell of a lot.

“Coming here playing Iraq; staying in Dubai and experiencing the conditions; training in very hot conditions; I think we-ve acclimatized very, very well and I think tonight was evidence of how well we have acclimatised and how well we did.”

The only sour note for Schwarzer from the game on Saturday was the yellow card he received for time wasting, which rules him out of the final group qualifier against China. The match is effectively a dead rubber, with China eliminated and Australia already through to the next phase.

“Very disappointed,” he said. “I asked the referee if I could take the plastic bag off the field and then came back and put the ball on the spot (for a goal kick) and he gives me a yellow card.

“It-s a bit strange, but that-s the way it goes sometimes. I think he was influenced by a few Qatari players and it will be disappointing to miss this game (China), but I suppose because yellow cards carry over to the next round, I think it-s probably a good one to miss, knowing we are assured for the next round.

But his suspension, plus that of David Carney and Luke Wilkshire, will force coach Pim Verbeek into making several changes and Schwarzer believes this is the perfect opportunity for the fringe players to make a stand.

“Definitely, it gives them a great opportunity to push their claims,” the Fulham shot stopper said. “From my point of view, its disappointing, but from other guys its there opportunity to try and stake a claim in future teams.”