Verbeek backs Singapore
Pim Verbeek voiced confidence in his rookie Socceroos team despite a 0-0 draw with lowly Indonesia, as AFC Asian Cup qualifying was overshadowed by an alleged mass brawl after Singapore beat Jordan.
Playing in Jakarta's imposing Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Australia, fielding domestic A-League players instead of their foreign-based stars, found it hard going on a soft and bumpy pitch with few scoring chances on either side.
Indonesian striker Budi Sudarsano had the best opportunity from close range on 62 minutes, with Archie Thompson and Paul Reid going close for Australia. But Verbeek, whose top-line players were on club duty, was content with what he saw.
"After the 90 minutes I think this was a fair result for both sides. We made things difficult for Indonesia in the first half and 0-0 is probably the best result," he told reporters.
"Some of our players did very well. They were all under pressure. This was a different game, a different stage. I'm glad they had the opportunity to get their first taste in international football."
Australia are third in the table with one point behind leaders Oman who have four. Second-placed Indonesia have two points, but the Socceroos have a game in hand.
Oman, buoyed by their recent maiden Gulf Cup success, went top with a 1-0 win in Kuwait with Hassan Rabea scoring in the 63rd minute. Later, Kuwaiti coach Mohammed Ibrahim dramatically resigned.
"I announced my resignation from my post after this disappointing defeat," he was quoted as saying on the Asian Football Confederation website. "I hope that the Kuwait FA transition committee can find a suitable replacement to lead the team."
Meanwhile, police said they were investigating after Singapore and Jordanian players were reportedly involved in a mass brawl after the home side won 2-1 in the city-state.
The Straits Times newspaper claimed the Singaporean players were surrounded and assaulted by their angry opponents "armed with plastic bottles, broomsticks and even an electric fan" as they returned to their dressing rooms.
"We were all returning to the dressing room and celebrating the win but the Jordanians swarmed us, punching and kicking our players," centre-back Daniel Bennett was quoted as saying.
The Football Association of Singapore could not immediately be reached for comment. In the match, Agu Casmir got Singapore's opener after 21 minutes, Jordan levelled through a Hatem Aqel penalty before the break and Noh Alam Shah scored the winner for Singapore on 63 minutes.
Also in their group, Peter Reid's Thailand held Ali Daei's formidable Iran, three-time champions, to a 0-0 draw in Bangkok while Syria, who are in Group D with China, kept up their perfect record with a second win, a 2-0 success in Lebanon.
Japan, Asian champions in 1992, 2000 and 2004, went down to a 1-0 defeat in Manama with Salman Isa scoring the winner in the 25th minute to give Bahrain their second successive victory.
It was Japan's first defeat following a 2-1 victory over Yemen at home while Bahrain, who lead Group A, won their opener against Hong Kong 3-1. "Our performance was not good and we will try to bounce back in the next matches," said Japan coach Takeshi Okada.
"I didn't expect to lose as we know that we are a good side." Elsewhere, a 30th-minute goal from Farhod Tadijev gave Uzbekistan a 1-0 win over the United Arab Emirates in Sharjah. The UAE stay top of their group after a 5-0 mauling of Malaysia in their opener. The top two teams in each group qualify for the 2011 finals.