Kewell given open licence by Verbeek
Socceroos captain Harry Kewell will be given an open license to play his own game by coach Pim Verbeek during Sunday’s clash with China at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
Socceroos captain Harry Kewell will be given an open license to play his own game by coach Pim Verbeek during Sunday-s clash with China at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
Having played virtually as a lone striker for the past two weeks during the teams sojourn to the Middle East, Kewell is likely to find himself either playing up front alongside Bruce Djite or sit in just behind the former Adelaide United star.
Verbeek will be looking for his captain to be the focal point of the attack, which will allow him to be at his creative best and also bring other players into the match.
“Harry can play his own game,” Verbeek said at the team-s final press conference, before the tomorrow- game. “That-s when he is strongest; I think he is doing very well, no, I am sure he is doing very well already in the last few weeks.
“(That-s in an) attacking role of course, because that-s when he is strongest. He can score; he can bring players into scoring positions and that-s what I expect from him tomorrow.
While Harry himself has been keen to play 90 minutes prior to this game, Verbeek believes the time is now right for him to play the full game, with his fitness levels at almost 100%.
“He is getting fitter and fitter and it-s a good opportunity for him to play 90 minutes,” he said.
“This is the moment for him; that-s what he wants the last few weeks, but okay I decide (when he comes off), but tomorrow he can decide.
“When he came here for the Ghana game, he felt good; started to feel much better (as he went on). You see him at training yesterday and the day before and he was fantastic; climate is fantastic; weather will be fantastic; he will show himself tomorrow.”
Verbeek also refuted the suggestion that Kewell owes him during the next phase of qualifiers, for having faith in him during these qualifiers.
“That-s not why I put him in the team, just to get something back (later on in the campaign). I think Harry is a great player and he-s at an age where he can be very important during the World Cup for us; all he needed was confidence and being fit and he has shown me his quality and that he was willing to do a job for the team.
“We should not forget that he left Liverpool before playing with us in Singapore and they were not very happy with that in Liverpool. He showed that he wanted to be a part of the Socceroos; was desperate to play and we gave him the opportunity to play and he deserved it.
“I don-t give presents to players; I have enough good players; but he made the most of his opportunities; he was a great captain for the past few weeks of the team and he still is.
“We-ll see how good he is for his next club and for us; we will need him.”
Australia's match against China is on Sunday at 6.00pm with tickets still available from Ticketek. The match can be seen live on FoxSports or there is a Live Update right here on www.footballaustralia.com.au from 5.45pm.