Australia Coach Pim Verbeek Names Initial World Cup Squad

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Australia Coach Pim Verbeek Names Initial World Cup Squad
Matt King/Getty Images

Australia coach Pim Verbeek recently named a provisional 31-man World Cup squad with few surprises.

There are no major absentees from Verbeek’s preferred 11, but doubts remain about the fitness of key man Harry Kewell, who has barely played for Turkish club Galatasaray due to a long running groin complaint.

Verbeek employees a 4-2-3-1 formation and is unlikely to depart from his usual line up. This will be the last World Cup for many of the starters and Australian soccer could suffer with the impending retirement of the majority of their golden generation.


Goalkeeper

Mark Schwarzer

Goes into the tournament off the back of another excellent season with Fulham and will be hoping for a strong showing after the disappointment of losing the inaugural Europa League final against Atletico Madrid.


Defense

Right Back

Luke Wilkshire

The 28-year-old began his career with Middlesbrough before progressing from Bristol City to FC Twente, currently plays for Dynamo Moscow. With 40 caps for the national team, Wilkshire is hard working and technically accomplished. Can also play in midfield.

Center Back

Craig Moore

The 34-year-old Moore remains a first choice centre back through necessity. Severely lacking match practise after a short-lived spell with Greek club AO Kavala ended in March. His age and rustiness may be exposed.

Lucas Neil

Two years younger than Moore, Neil has benefited from first team football with Everton and Galatasary this season, but the Socceroos’ central defence looks vulnerable to quick opposition.

Left Back

Scott Chipperfield

Another seasoned campaigner with 63 caps, Chipperfield is the same age as Moore but is still playing first team football with FC Basel and retains an exceptional engine, one that will be called upon to compensate for the lack of pace alongside him. Can also play in midfield.


Defensive Midfield

Vince Grella

One of two anchors employed to shield the back four, 42 cap Grella has been an injury concern leading up to the tournament. After a 10-year stint in Italy, the 30-year-old moved to Blackburn Rovers, but has barely featured for the Premier League team this season.

If Grella doesn’t overcome his injury problems, Wilkshire or Chipperfield could replace him in midfield, with David Carney coming into the defence.

Jason Culina

A former Champions League semifinalist with PSV, Culina has retained his place in the starting lineup despite his move back to Australia with Gold Coast United being looked on less than favourably by Verbeek. Technically gifted, will be called upon to distribute to more advanced team mates.


Attacking Midfield

Right

Brett Emerton

Comfortable in both defense and midfield, the previously redoubtable Emerton has featured intermittently for Blackburn this year but his considerable experience at international level should see him start if fit.

Center

Tim Cahill

The undoubted star of the national team, Cahill serves as both a talisman and goalscorer. With a less than prolific one-man strike force, Cahill will be the Socceroos' main threat and their chances of progressing to the knockout stages will depend on his form.

Left

Harry Kewell/Mark Bresciano

One of the most promising left sided midfielders in the world during his time with Leeds, Kewell spent an injury-plagued five years at Liverpool between 2003-2008.

After initially recovering form and fitness at Galatasary, Kewell has yet again fallen victim to injury, with his participation in the tournament in doubt after months on the sidelines with a persistent groin problem.

If Kewell is absent his place may go to Mark Bresciano, a player who has suffered his own share of injury problems this season and who recently joined Saudi club Al-Nassr from Serie A outfit Palermo.


Center Forward

Josh Kennedy

Lone front man Josh Kennedy is tasked with disrupting the opposition, holding the ball up and attempting to bring the midfield into play. Not a natural goal scorer, but preferred by Verbeek at international level to Scott Macdonald, who has impressed with Celtic and Middlesbrough, but is yet to do so wearing the green and gold. The retired Mark Viduka continues to be missed.

Wildcard

Tommy Oar

 

 

An 18-year-old who recently earned a move to FC Utrecht after impressing on the wing for Brisbane Roar in the A-League and performed well on debut for Australia in a 1-0 win over Indonesia in March. If he makes the final 23-man squad, the teenager could be an impact from the bench.

 


One to Watch

Nikita Rukavytsya

Could be the Socceroos' X factor at the tournament. Ukrainian-born Rukavytsya has only made two appearances for the national team but impressed on loan at Belgium club RSV Roeselare this season from parent club FC Twente. With Verbeek reluctant to use Scott McDonald, Rukavytsya’s pace and energy could provide an alternative to the less dynamic Kennedy.

Facing more gifted opponents Germany, Ghana, and Serbia, the Socceroos are not favorites to progress. But the capacity for Australian sports teams to perform above their level on the international stage shouldn’t be discounted, particularly with many of the players making their last appearances at a major tournament. Experienced and organised, they shouldn’t be underestimated.

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