2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™

2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™

9 June - 9 July

2006 FIFA World Cup™

Hiddink opts for Schwarzer

Australia coach Guus Hiddink has opted to start with Mark Schwarzer ahead of Zeljko Kalac against Italy in the Round of 16 on Monday after switching goalkeepers with eye-catching consequences in their decisive Group F match with Croatia last week.

Hiddink dropped Schwarzer in favour of Kalac in Stuttgart and the replacement suffered a nightmare moment in the 56th minute when a tame shot by Niko Kovac squirmed out of his grasp and into the net – a mistake which could have cost Australia their place in the second round of the FIFA World Cup™.

As it was, Harry Kewell's 79th-minute equaliser earned the Socceroos the point they needed to qualify for the Round of 16. Kewell's intervention rescued not only Australia but Kalac himself and as the AC Milan giant told FIFAworldcup.com, his first thought was: "Thanks Harry!"

Get the lowdown on Italy v Australia

Reflecting on Australia's comeback in Stuttgart, Kalac added: "It was a fantastic result for football in our country and I think the boys just showed the character that we have. They dug me out of a hole and saved my life, but that's part of football.

"It's a team game. When someone makes a mistake, the other boys are there to help out. Their first goal was a world-class free-kick so there's not much you can do about that, but I'm obviously disappointed about the second goal. When it happened, I was looking for a hole to dig myself into. I just had to keep going and make sure we didn't concede another one.

"It was a big occasion and it would have been absolute misery if we'd gone out in those circumstances on my behalf. Obviously it will all be forgotten now we've gone through and we've got another match to play."

Schwarzer's frustration

Kalac now hands the goalkeeper's jersey back to Schwarzer and for the Australia No.1, Monday's match is an immediate opportunity to make up for the frustration of missing out against Croatia.

Schwarzer was disappointed by his omission against Croatia and he told FIFAworldcup.com: "I suspected it the day before the game with the way training was done, but I found out for definite on Thursday. He (Hiddink) has a habit of not announcing his team until very, very late. He came to me and just said he was leaving me out. He didn't give me an excuse.

"There's a lot of emotions that go through your head. First and foremost you're disappointed you're not playing and secondly, I don't think I've done that badly. You get replaced and you're not given a reason for it."

Asked what it was like for him sitting on the bench when Kalac made his error, Schwarzer said: "That sort of mistake can happen to anyone. It can happen to me or the next goalkeeper and you don't wish that upon anyone. At that stage, you think you're going to lose the game and you're going out of the World Cup because of various reasons and you're angry about it all. Obviously that changed because we equalised and we got through and in the end, that's what matters.

"The World Cup has been a whirlwind experience for me with the way things have been in the team and the whole selection process throughout the tournament. It's been hard work, emotionally especially, but it's just part and parcel of the game I suppose."

On the eve of the Socceroos' showdown with Italy, however, Hiddink confirmed the news Schwarzer was hoping to hear by telling reporters: "Normally I don't give out the line-up but yes, Schwarzer will be in goal." Hurt he may have been after being dropped for the Croatia match, but the Middlesbrough man will be eager to show the world what he is made of against the Azzurri on his former club ground in Kaiserslautern.