Valuable lessons learned for young players

Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek believes his young players will learn some valuable lessons for the future after they went down 1-0 to China at ANZ Stadium in Sydney to night.

Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek believes his young players will learn some valuable lessons for the future after they went down 1-0 to China at ANZ Stadium in Sydney to night.

While not wanting to be overly critical of his team, given that he played six under 23 players with only 10 international caps between them, Verbeek was still disappointed with the performance, especially with 70,000 turning up to watch the next generation of Australian players.

Of biggest concern for Verbeek was the constant turnovers and loss of 50/50 challengers to their opponents, especially in the first half.

“We lost a lot of duels in the first half,” he said. “I thought we were not aggressive enough. I think we had three or four good chances and with a little more aggression you can score one of them.

“Second half we had more ball possession but we were not dangerous and I cannot remember a real chance at goal in the second half and that was disappointing.

“The final pass was not good enough; final decision was not good enough, but okay that-s why they are young players and that-s what they have to improve, because that-s what football is all about - the final pass.

“It-s a disappointing result, because we don-t like losing and we wanted to show the fans at least one point and in principle we like to win.

Asked of the young players who impressed, Verbeek didn-t want to name anybody in particular, although earlier he mentioned he was happy with the central defence pairing of Matt Spiranovic and Jade North.

“This is quite a young team playing against a full Chinese squad; we had quite a lot of ball possession and some did well tonight and some did better in the training than they showed today. It-s possible they were nervous, but they have to learn from games like this.”

Verbeek though was pleased with some aspects of the game, although with 70,000 fans in the stadium, he still believed a better performance was needed for them.

“If there were no fans in the stand I literally would be very happy with this game,” he added. “But we have 70,000 people in the stands and they want to see more chances, they want to see us score goals; they wanted to see at least a result and that is what we didn't show.”

Meanwhile captain Harry Kewell was proud of his young team.

“It-s disappointing; we don-t like losing,” said Kewell. “China had a good strike in the first half; we created a few half chances, but didn-t really create any great chances. Look we there and I am proud of them and they played well.”

“These guys are not boys; they are men. I have seen them close up and I know exactly what they can do and they went out there and enjoyed themselves.

As for his own game, Kewell was more pleased that he got a full 90 minutes under his belt and it augurs well for the near future.

“It-s nice to be just playing,” he enthused. “It-s a shame that it-s come to an end; well it-s not a shame, because I am going on a holiday. I felt great; I felt I could have kept on going and its just positive steps for me coming back.”

Asked what he thought the main lessons learned from tonight were.

“Don-t lose again,” he said bluntly. “I am not happy about it; the manager-s not happy about it; the team-s not happy about it, the crowd and all of Australia is not happy about it. But that-s the way football goes and thank god we had the qualification wrapped up and we were through anyway.

As for what lays ahead in the next phase?

“Yeah, eight more games, its going to be difficult, but again we're prepared for that,” Kewell said. “When we entered we knew it-s wasn-t going to be an easy route, but its exciting; I'm looking forward to it and I can-t wait for the draw to know who we're playing against. I am quite sure we'll have a strong squad out there and things will be different.”

As for where he might be heading, he fended of questions about a possible move to AS Roma in Italy, saying he was looking forward to a holiday and would decide his future after that.