While nothing but professional pride was at stake in Saturday's scoreless friendly with the Netherlands, ranked third in the world, the Socceroos face a vital game against Oman as they battle to stay alive in the 2011 Asian Cup. A scratchy start to qualifying has Asia's top-ranked team trailing at the bottom of Group B with just one point from two qualifying games, behind group leaders Oman.
Verbeek paid a high price for fielding a home-based side against Kuwait, losing 1-0 in Canberra in March and now the Socceroos will be sending in their big guns against Oman on Wednesday. The other side in the group is Indonesia.
Verbeek, who has previously coached Korea Republic and the United Arab Emirates, knows Oman will come with a different game plan from the Dutch, who "take the initiative and let the ball circulate."
"I think Oman will come with one striker and will play defensively with nine players," he said. "So they will play in their own penalty box, waiting until they can counter-attack. Oman is a totally different team. More unpredictable, waiting for one chance, so we have to combine and be patient and try to score an early goal," he added.
The 14th-ranked Australians are likely to be without Blackburn Rovers defensive midfielder Vince Grella, who only lasted 15 minutes on Saturday before he came off with a thigh injury. "We have to wait but it doesn't look good, so that's a big loss for us," Verbeek said.
Verbeek also took the precaution of substituting Everton ace Tim Cahill, striker Josh Kennedy and defender Craig Moore at half-time to save them for the Oman clash. But he was relieved that skipper Lucas Neill completed the full 90 minutes after a lack of football in recent months, while Brett Emerton was also prominent after coming on as a replacement at half-time in his comeback from knee surgery.
"The quality of a player like Lucas is that he never panics, he organises the defence and he's very relaxed during the game," Verbeek said. Verbeek said he intended to use experienced left-sided defender Scott Chipperfield against Oman, but Mark Bresciano and Scott McDonald would not be available because of injuries.