Verbeek praises team for second half performance

Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek praised his team’s second half performance that saw Australia on the verge of qualifying for its second successive World Cup finals.

Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek praised his team-s second half performance that saw Australia on the verge of qualifying for its second successive World Cup finals.

Having watched, at times very frustratingly, his sides slow and fairly listless first half showing, Verbeek got the response he was looking for in the second half, as Josh Kennedy and Harry Kewell both scored to seal a 2-0 win against a plucky Uzbekistan side.

Uzbekistan certainly came to play and had several golden opportunities to score in the opening 10 minutes, while a nervy Australian side, despite having a couple of decent efforts of its own, never really got going.

“I am very pleased with the 2-0,” he said after the match. “We all saw it was a little bit difficult in the first half; we were too slow passing the ball, we couldn-t find a free player.

“I have to say also, that Uzbekistan played very compact and made it very difficult for us, they can play football and are a very good team.

“They had a lot of confidence from last Saturday-s game, but I think in the second half we played faster, quicker, higher ball speed, we created more chances and we didn-t give them any chances in and around our penalty box.

“I think we deserved our first goal and especially our second goal. I'm very pleased,” he added.

He was also full of praise for his own medical staff, who had the job of getting Mark Bresciano, Tim Cahill, Michael Beauchamp and Carl Valeri fit to play.

Bresciano, Beauchamp and Valeri alls started with only Valeri coming off after rolling his ankle late in the game, while Cahill was not risked from the start and not needed in the end.

"I think the medical staff did a great job because it was more difficult this week than I had said yesterday at the press conference," he revealed.

"We had four really injured players when they came in. Bresciano played a great game but he couldn't even walk when he arrived here, so great job by the medical staff."

"I'm very proud of the players. They were patient, they were organised, created chances and they scored a great goal from Josh, and a great penalty from Harry. I'm very happy."

While Kennedy will get the plaudits for coming off the bench to head Australia in front, Verbeek also reserved a special mention for the player he replaced in Scott McDonald, who once again didn-t get his name on the scoresheet.

"I thought it was better to start with Scotty who was very sharp in training this week and I had Josh and Timmy on the bench in case it necessary to put more pressure on the opponent.

“I thought he (McDonald) had two great balls in the first half that he gave to Bresciano and that-s what a striker has to do, bring other players into scoring positions.

“I was thinking of starting him with Josh in the second half to play with two strikers up, but I have to be honest, I thought the midfield of Uzbekistan was good.”

Asked about his selection of Richard Garcia for his first start in the national team, Verbeek said he basically had no choice after the Hull City midfielder had trained the house down.

“I think if you play in England in the Premiership, you can do something,” Verbeek said of Garcia. “He was very good at the training this week.

“He started nervous in the first half, but second half he did what he had to do. He brings a lot of power to the team; he-s fast; he-s bringing in what we are losing with Brett Emerton.

“He worked very hard and especially in the second half he did a terrific job.”