Work to do for Socceroos

Harry Kewell shines in a 3-0 win over Singapore, but Australia's defence looks shaky.

    Socceroos defender Patrick Kisnorbo, centre, was
    lucky not to see red against Singapore [AFP]

    Graham Arnold, Australian coach, gave high praise to Liverpool star Harry Kewell after he helped inspire his side to a 3-0 win over Singapore in an Asian Cup warm-up friendly on Saturday, but was far from happy with his back four.

    Kewell, who is nearing full-fitness after an injury riddled season, replaced Mark Bresciano with 30 minutes to go on in the match against Singapore for his first international appearance since Australia's 2-2 draw with Croatia at last year's World Cup.

    The Liverpool midfielder proceeded to score once and set up Mark Viduka's second as the Socceroos recovered from a lacklustre first-half display to overrun the tiring home side.

    "I'm delighted for Harry," Arnold said.

    "I gave him the captain's armband for the last couple of minutes as a reward for what he's been through.

    "He was fantastic when he came on because he gives you an added dimension. Harry came in more central from outside on the wing to be closer to Viduka and I think it's a role that suits him because he's a natural goalscorer," the Socceroos coach added.

    "This is a massive tournament that we're going into with the results that we want.

    "But Harry's been out for a really long time, he had five operations after the World Cup and the tournament is also about getting Harry Kewell back to his best as well."

    While Kewell shone, Australia's defence looked shaky and Arnold admitted he was not happy with the way the back four performed.

    "Singapore tested us and were very unlucky. We have a lot of work to do. Our attacking play was fantastic... but we've got some work to do in defence," he said.

    "I wasn't happy with that side of it. We weren't sharp."

    Asia not easy

    With Luke Wilkshire, usually a midfielder, playing out of position at left-back and Lucas Neill and Patrick Kisnorbo struggling to form a solid combination in the centre of defence, the Socceroos were lucky not to concede on more than a few occasions.

    The Australians have been acclimatizing in Singapore to hot and humid conditions also expected in their Group A home base of Bangkok where they will meet Oman, Iraq and Thailand in the first round.


    The conditions were always going to be tough as most of Australia's players are based in Europe for their club football, but a lively Singapore team pushed their more fancied opponents to the limit in the first half.

    "The match shows you how difficult Asia is for Australia," said Arnold.

    "People back at home think moving in to Asia is easy but can you imagine what would have happened if we had just turned up without training here for 10 days before the game?"

    SOURCE: Agencies


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