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UNDER fire from critics after Australia's 4-0 thrashing by Germany in the World Cup on Monday night, Socceroos coach Pim Verbeeck has accepted responsibility for some curious selections and tactics.
Verbeeck used several players out of position, left out regular starters and went into the match without a recognised striker. The changes backfired as Australia were routed by an impressive Germany that could have scored several more goals if not for some bad misses.
Seemingly intent on a draw, Verbeeck inexplicably left out target-man forward Josh Kennedy and regular attacking midfielder Mark Bresciano - both of whom were regulars in build-up games - while star forward Harry Kewell never came off the bench.
"If you lose 4-0 you can always say it didn't help, but nobody can prove we would have won if we had had those players on the field," Verbeeck said.
"They (Kennedy and Bresciano) didn't do well in the last two games. They didn't do well in training. Those who were on the field were the better players."
Verbeeck said he had intended to bring on Kewell, but had to abandon the plan after midfielder Tim Cahill was sent off early in the second half.
The defensive formation and unusual selections - including regular central midfielder Jason Culina being played on the left wing and midfielder Richard Garcia being played in an advanced position - prompted stinging criticism in Australia.
The Sydney Morning Herald headlined its story "Utter Disaster", and castigated the coach for his selection gambles.
Former Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Bosnich expressed sympathy for the Australian fans: "These people paid good money to come out here and they deserve a good performance against Ghana (in the next group game)." - Sapa-AP
lSee Page 9 in the Let's Go 2010 supplement inside.