Verbeek satisfied with draw

Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek is satisfied with the draw his team has received for the final stage of Asian qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek is satisfied with the draw his team has received for the final stage of Asian qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Australia will play Japan, Bahrain, Uzbekistan and Qatar in Group A of the fourth stage, avoiding the likes of Korea Republic, Iran and Saudi Arabia, who all participated at the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.

Verbeek however was still cautious and warned that it will still not be easy to qualify in the top two, with Japan and Uzbekistan in particular, to provide stiff opposition.

“It-s a very interesting situation; an interesting group,” he said via telephone link up. “We worked really hard to get through to this stage and the players know what to do and they will be ready.

“It could have been better and could have been worse; all the teams have their own qualities, so it-s still a fairly open group.”

While still digesting the outcome of the draw, Verbeek couldn-t put a figure on the number of points he believed would be needed to qualify automatically, but has no doubts it will come right down to the last two games at home in a little under a year-s time.

“I think the final decisions (on who goes through) will be made in the final two games against Bahrain and Japan at home,” he said.

A lot of interest though centred on Australia-s first match of the mini-tournament against Uzbekistan on September 10 in most likely Tashkent. With a bye first up, Verbeek has the luxury of getting the team in camp for a significant period before the match, although where that camp will be is still anyone-s guess.

“It-s always good to have 10 days to prepare. I understand we have never played them before, but I have been there with South Korea, so I know what it-s like.

“We have to work out flying schedules for our overseas and local players and I would ideally like to play a friendly match beforehand (September 6).

“They are very Russian-orientated; have a few players with top clubs in Russia and are physically strong, skilful players. They did very well at the Asian Cup last year and were very good when we went there with Korea.”

He admitted the two away matches on the non-FIFA World Cup dates would be difficult, but accepted that-s part of qualifying and has a strong belief in his players to overcome those obstacles as they arise.

For further details on the list of games, click here.

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