Verbeek's happy headache
Qantas Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek believes he has at least 35 players who could travel in the final squad of 23 to next year's World Cup in South Africa and says he has some very tough decisions to make.
Qantas Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek believes he has at least 35 players who could travel in the final squad of 23 to next year's World Cup in South Africa and says he has some very tough decisions to make after the Socceroos completed their qualification campaign unbeaten in the final stage.
Verbeek has certainly not been afraid to test out his options in the final stages of qualifying, using 25 different players in the final three qualifiers, including handing debuts to youngsters Dario Vidosic and Rhys Williams in Wednesday's match against Japan.
When you consider that regular first-choice players Brett Emerton, Michael Beauchamp and Craig Moore did not play in the past month, it leaves Verbeek with no shortage of options. The Dutchman describes the prospect of honing his squad down to a final 23 as a 'headache', but one which he is glad to have.
"I think it's a headache for the coach. But a coach will have a headache if he doesn't have players, I'm in the luxury position that I have at least 35 players, at least at this moment, who have shown themselves during this campaign," he said.
"Ok, the World Cup is different, but they still have one year to show themselves. It will be a very interesting year, and everybody has to be at his best to be in the final 23 players."
Verbeek said before the Japan game that he would not make his mind up based on his players' performance in these batch of qualifiers alone. Australia has several friendlies scheduled over the next 12 months, plus some Asian Cup qualifiers should Verbeek choose to test out his players in the environment.
"For Australian football, this is a fantastic situation that you have such a big squad available," he said.
Verbeek was assistant coach with South Korea when that team made the semi-finals under Guus Hiddink in 2002, while he was Dick Advocaat's right-hand man during South Korea's campaign in Germany 2006.
Faced with his first World Cup as the man in charge, Verbeek is very excited with the challenge, but realises there is an enormous weight of expectation after Australia's performance in the last World Cup.
"I think it's already fantastic that we go to the World Cup. I haven't thought so much already about the World Cup, but it's the biggest sports event in the world," he said.
"My players are looking forward, and that's an understatement, to that sporting event. They will do everything to try to do it better than last time. They did a great job in 2006, so it will be difficult to do the same. But that's what we want to do, try to do the same and hopefully even better. That's the target and we will see if that will work out."