McDonald ready for Uzbeks
The Australian striker wants to end his scoring drought against Uzbekistan.
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2009 10:11 GMT

Scott McDonald prepares for the match in Sydney [GALLO/GETTY]
Scott McDonald has had no trouble finding the back of the net for Scottish powerhouse Celtic.

But he has had difficulty translating his form in the Scottish league, 16 goals this season and a league-high 25 last season, to the international arena for Australia.

It's something he wants to rectify in Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan.

McDonald hasn't scored in 10 appearances for Australia and his frustration mounted when he was an unused substitute in Australia's scoreless draw with Japan in Yokohama last month.

"I'm here for a reason and I've proved over the last few years that I've played at the top level, whether that be playing for Celtic in the league or the Champions League, probably the biggest competition at the moment ... up there with the World Cup,'' McDonald said Monday.


McDonald admitted he was disappointed at being left on the bench against Japan, but accepted it was the right decision by coach Pim Verbeek with Australia clinching the valuable away draw.

The Scottish media was highly critical of Verbeek's decision to fly McDonald to Japan for the Asian qualifier in the week leading up to an Old Firm derby match between Celtic and Glasgow rival Rangers, and then leave him on the bench.

But McDonald was more circumspect.

"When you've got such a big game coming up on the weekend, there's going to be a fuss from the Scottish media if you've traveled all that way and not played,'' McDonald said.

"But I'm professional about it. I was disappointed I didn't play but it's a big thing playing for your country and that's the sacrifice you have to make.''

McDonald is unsure if he will get a starting berth against Uzbekistan, but could be paired with Josh Kennedy if Verbeek opts for an attacking formation.

Japan leads Group A in the Asian qualifying tournament with 11 points, but has played five matches.

Big boost

Australia, which has three wins and a draw in its four matches for 10 points, can go a long way toward clinching a berth in South Africa next year with a win over Uzbekistan on Wednesday.

The Australians scored a comfortable win at Tashkent in the opening round, but will face a more confident Uzbek lineup in Sydney this week after the central Asians thrashed Qatar 4-0 on the weekend for their first win of the campaign.

The top two teams from both Asian qualifying groups progress automatically to next year's World Cup.

The other three teams in the group; Uzbekistan, Bahrain and Qatar all have four points each.

Australia, which had the weekend off, has three matches left after Wednesday's game, away in Doha against Qatar on June 6 and home matches in Sydney on June 10 against Bahrain and in Melbourne on June 17 against Japan.

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