Australia coach Pim Verbeek decided to spare ex-Liverpool star Harry Kewell from the media because he wants to wait until the attacker is fully fit. Turkey-based Kewell is recovering from a persistent groin injury and had been due to speak after the Socceroos completed the latest training session at their northern Johannesburg base.
Verbeek, assistant Australia coach to fellow Dutchman Dick Advocaat at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, will see his side take on fellow qualifiers Denmark on Tuesday before facing USA next Saturday in their last warm-up. He is hoping for a vastly-improved performance from a 2-1 home win over New Zealand last week as they prepare to tackle Germany, Ghana and Serbia in Group D.
I think a lot of guys here realise this is probably their last chance to play in a World Cup and we want to make the most of it.
"We know we were rusty against New Zealand and that we have to improve our organisation. We also have to work on our communication when we don't have the ball and that is why you play friendlies," he said. "The Denmark game, for me, is an extension of the training we are doing. The most important one will be against the United States when we will be 100 per cent fit. I expect us to be up to about 90 per cent fit for Denmark. Then we will have two weeks to get ourselves ready for the first match."
Roos on the mend
Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has been recovering from a wrist and thumb injury and missed the match against New Zealand. The 37-year-old is now back in full training and full of anticipation as he prepares to play in his second FIFA World Cup.
Schwarzer said: "I'm feeling much better and I'm just glad to be back training again. It was a blowout today and my thumb was holding up really well so hopefully I will get selected against Denmark. There are a lot of players here who played in 2006, but the atmosphere is different because we have a different coach. I think a lot of guys here realise this is probably their last chance to play in a World Cup and we want to make the most of it."
His displays for Fulham in a run to the UEFA Europa League final have seen the former Middlesbrough stalwart linked with a move to Arsenal, but he is not letting speculation hamper preparations. "I've seen reports, but I don't know anything else about it," he said. "I've got a year left on my contract and I've already had two fantastic seasons at Fulham. I have nothing but praise for my time there. As far as I'm concerned, I'm here concentrating on playing in the World Cup and doing the best that I can for Australia."
Blackburn star Brett Emerton, who sat out training since arriving in South Africa because he is nursing a calf strain, played down concerns over his fitness and insisted he will be ready. "I've just been taking it easy but I'll hopefully be back in training tomorrow [Sunday]," he said. "I'm fine - we just have to look at the bigger picture and make sure I'm ready for the first match against Germany. Missing one or two games now is better than being unfit in two weeks."