Verbeek wants focus for Bahrain
The Australian coach calls on a big effort from his team ahead of their clash with Bahrain.
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2009 22:45 GMT

The Australian coach demands a strong performance in front of their home crowd [GALLO/GETTY]
Australia coach Pim Verbeek has told his players they must make sure they finish top of their group now that they have qualified for the 2010 World Cup finals.

The Socceroos go into their Asian Group One qualifier against Bahrain in Sydney with little to play for, having already booked their place at the finals in South Africa with a scoreless draw against Qatar in Doha on Saturday.

Bahrain are determined to take at least one point away from the match to keep their finals dream alive.

A draw would almost certainly give the tiny Gulf nation third place in the group and a playoff match against the third-placed team in Group Two for the chance to meet New Zealand for a place at the finals.

Serious business

"It's not a friendly match, it's a serious World Cup match and we want to be number one in our group," Verbeek told the Australian Associated Press.

"Until now, most of the players were still thinking and dreaming of the Qatar game about the World Cup, which is normal.

"But the moment they are on the field, they have to start concentrating on the game...forget about tiredness, forget about trips, forget about the World Cup. Just think about the game."

Australia lead Group One on goal difference ahead of second-placed Japan, who have also qualified.

Verbeek will field an under-strength side against Bahrain, with Italy-based Mark Bresciano and Car Valeri excused to return home after the Qatar match.

Suspended captain Lucas Neill will also be absent, while injuries have forced out striker Josh Kennedy, midfielder Richard Garcia and defender Scott Chipperfield.

Verbeek said he would field the best team available, despite the temptation to blood new players, after being flayed by Australian media for losing to China last year during an earlier round of Asian qualifiers.

"Everybody said 'fantastic' before (the match)," the Dutchman said. "Then we lost 1-0 and half the country was killing me, saying 'How can you play a young team in such an important game?'"

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