Schwarzer to play against Italy
Qantas Socceroo coach Guus Hiddink went against the normal today, by naming Mark Schwarzer as a definite starter against Italy in Monday’s Round of 16 game in Kaiserslautern. There is also doubts about the fitness of Harry Kewell for this game.
Qantas Socceroo coach Guus Hiddink went against the normal today, by naming Mark Schwarzer as a definite starter against Italy in Monday-s Round of 16 game in Kaiserslautern. There is also doubts about the fitness of Harry Kewell for this game.
Hiddink usually keeps selections to game day, but on this occasion when asked if Schwarzer would come back into the side at the expense of AC Milan keeper Zeljko Kalac, his reply was short and simply.
“Normally I don-t give a line-up, but yes,” Hiddink told the packed media conference, before training.
That was to be the only definite selection he would afford the media, giving no clues as to who might replace suspended Brett Emerton and also indicating that Kewell would be given until game day to determine whether he will start or come off the bench.
Kewell is a selection headache, having not trained since his starring role against Croatia, his 79th minute goal earning the Socceroos a place in the last 16. The Liverpool midfielder played 90 minutes against Croatia and has found the going tough after matches, with his persistent groin problems that have affected his career for nearly three years now.
“Regarding the injuries, we-ll see how the recovery will be for Harry,” Hiddink said. “He won-t participate fully in the training with the team this morning and we-ll see how his situation is tomorrow.
“It-s the same procedure that we had before as we did for the Croatia game.”
Emerton-s suspension due to his send -off in Stuttgart last Thursday night, also leaved Hiddink with a lot to ponder, with no obvious choice to fill the role.
“Not many, not many,” Hiddink said with regards to options for replacing Emerton, who has been one of Australia-s most impressive performers in the three matches played so far. “That-s why I like to play a flexible system and play players that also have the ability to play in several spots and not limited in defence or midfield to play on one position because then you-re vulnerable.
“We will find our option and our solution, but that is not easy because Brett is giving a lot of energy to this team.”
“He is very important player for us in the way we play. It's very difficult to replace him.”
Emerton-s loss could pave the way for a return to the starting line-up for Italian-based midfielder Marco Bresciano whose knowledge of the Italian players would be invaluable, but that would mean changing the system around.
Hiddink is under no illusions as to how hard the task of getting past the Italians will be in Kaiserslautern, even with the news that they will be without Alessandro Nesta.
“Of course and its no surprise that they are 100% favourites for this round,” Hiddink said. “We hope to oppose them as good as we can; as long as we can and looking forward to see what is going to happen.
“They have very good strikers; they have a very strong midfield; they have an experienced back four, so there is no player which you can say he is new or he is vulnerable.
“I can-t mention one player to be a weak spot in this team.”
Hiddink is also hopeful that the Kaiserslautern pitch will be faster than when they played Japan there in its opening group game.
“I hope it will be less drier on the pitch, because the circumstances against Japan was not very good for us. We had to play on a way too dry pitch and that-s not good for the speed of the game normally.
“I hope that the pitch is a little bit more fast than it was last time and maybe they can wet the pitch just before the game. It will make it favourable for a good game.
Lucas Neill joined Hiddink at the press conference and while he says they are very much the underdog, he is sure he and his team mates will give the more fancied Italians a real scare.
“Nobody expected us to qualify for the World Cup, nobody expected us to get past the group and nobody expects us to beat Italy,” said Neill, in a fairly defiant mood.
“Yet again we look forward going into the game very much as the underdogs, against an Italian side full of experience, full of talent and a team that is expected to win.
“That-s not just the opinion of themselves, but the opinion of most of the world. It-s very much a David versus Goliath match, but we-ll give them the best game we possibly can.”