Verbeek remains cagey about starting XI

Australian national team coach Pim Verbeek remains cagey about his starting line-up and final 18-man squad for the clash against Qatar, with a final session at Brisbane Stadium this afternoon the last chance for players to stake a claim.

Australian national team coach Pim Verbeek remains cagey about his starting line-up and final 18-man squad for the clash against Qatar, with a final session at Brisbane Stadium this afternoon the last chance for players to stake a claim.

Competition for places has been intense, with probably the biggest selection ‘headache- surrounding who will partner Lucas Neill in central defence, with Craig Moore and Chris Coyne the main contenders at this stage.

But again Verbeek was giving nothing away and said what happened in the past didn-t count and it was down to the week long training camp.

“So far we-ve had a fantastic camp,” Verbeek said. “Ballymore has been great for us and we had an interesting training session on the Gold Coast last Saturday.

“That-s why we have a training camp, so players can show themselves.

“I said that to Craig Moore and he said he wanted to show me he was the best central defender and I said good, ‘show me-. Chris (Coyne) said the same. Both of them did very well and there are no headaches for me and probably not for the players also.

“There will always be players disappointed because they are not in the final 18 and there will be players disappointed when they are not in the final 11, but that-s professional football. It-s not about them; it-s about the Socceroos and winning games.”

Moore, who initially retired from international football in February after more than a decade with the national team, is obviously the sentimental favourite, given he is playing at his home ground and in his home state.

Verbeek knows the experience he brings back to the squad and just might be the deciding factor in him getting the nod, despite the form shown by Coyne in Tashkent a month ago.

“He (Moore) is a good guy; it-s good to have him back.

“For me its fantastic of course, because I prefer to have six central defenders, as I can always choose from a few. It-s a luxury to have players like that to choose from.”

Verbeek was also at pains to dispel the theory that Australia-s side will be weakened by the loss of Harry Kewell, Mark Bresciano, Vince Grella and Carl Valeri.

“Of these four, only two would be in the starting side if they were available and we have Jason Culina and Tim Cahill back.

“In international football we-ll never have a full squad, so it-s good to have enough players and possibilities.

“It would be more than nice to Harry Kewell and the others in the group, but if we don-t have them then we need to go on with other players and so far we always did.

“I don-t look back to see the players I don-t have, I am looking at the players I do have and I have enough players.”

One player who is almost certainly be in the starting side will be Tim Cahill, who missed all but one game of the last stage of qualifying and the Uzbekistan game and is eager to get amongst it, after his successful return with Everton recently.

Asked how important he is to the team, Verbeek said, “That-s what we-ll see at 9.45pm probably, just how important he is.

“We know how important he is, because he always scores goals. That-s one and second, if I am a defender and I have to play against Timmy Cahill, I-m sure I will have a difficult night.

“He poses them problems; they know how good he is and for us it-s always good to have players like that in the team.”

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