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Usher: Reds defence key at Basel

Liverpool about an hour ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 11, 2008

Verbeek lauds Australia's attacking options

Australia coach Pim Verbeek believes he is spoilt for choice when it comes to strikers for next week's World Cup qualifier against Bahrain.

The Socceroos continue to blossom without long-term injury victim Mark Viduka, the man who has carried the country's attack for much of the past decade.

Verbeek's team heads to Manama for next Thursday's clash with a perfect record in the final round of Asian qualifying for the 2010 World Cup with six points from two games.

And given they already lead fourth-placed Bahrain by five points - with the top two teams in the group automatically qualifying for South Africa 2010 and the third team going into a play-off - another win next week will leave the Socceroos on the verge of advancing to their second successive World Cup finals.

Such is Verbeek's confidence that he believes any one of the five attackers he has chosen in the 24-man squad for next week's game - Scott McDonald, Josh Kennedy, Bruce Djite, Brett Holman and Tim Cahill - are capable of doing the job for their country.

And this is not even including attacking midfielders Harry Kewell and Mark Bresciano, who both look set to return for the Bahrain clash after missing last month's 4-0 rout of Qatar in Brisbane due to injury.

Kennedy and McDonald appear to be Verbeek's preferred combination up front and he recently watched both in action and was pleased with what he saw.

"Both are doing well," he said. "I watched Scott last week when he played for Celtic against Hearts and then I was with Josh last Saturday when he played for Karlsruhe (in Germany)," Verbeek said.

"And Timmy (Cahill) is playing 90 minutes (for Everton) and Brett Holman is in a very good team (Dutch club AZ Alkmaar) which is doing well and (Bruce) Djite is always playing and scoring (in Turkey) so we have five good strikers and that's not even including the strikers I have on the standby list (such as A-League pair Matt Simon and Archie Thompson)."

Verbeek is also closely monitoring Australia's goalkeeping talent knowing that after the next World Cup he will have to find a successor to the Socceroos' long-term custodian Mark Schwarzer.

With that in mind uncapped Adam Federici has been included alongside Schwarzer and Michael Petkovic in the 24-man squad for the trip to Bahrain.

Verbeek says he has been impressed by the recent form of Olyroos keeper Federici since he moved to English League One club Southend on loan from English Championship club Reading.

"He had a good Olympics and we know his qualities," Verbeek said of Federici. "His problems were that he was not playing at a high level but he is playing regularly now for Southend and he is doing very well.

"So we have three goalkeepers (in the squad) and the more we have the better."

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