MELBOURNE - Australia will aim to prove their World Cup credentials against Japan on Wednesday, but will not risk starting players on yellow cards in their final dead rubber qualifier, coach Pim Verbeek said on Tuesday. Australia and Japan head into Wednesday's match with little to play for, having safely booked their places for next year's World Cup in South Africa. Both teams are resting key players, while injuries and fatigue have robbed Australia of attacking midfielder Harry Kewell, and regular defenders Brett Emerton and Luke Coyne. Compounding selection woes, a raft of first-choice players have drawn yellow cards in recent qualifiers, including regular defenders Luke Wilkshire and Scott Chipperfield. Verbeek scotched any notion that he would bolster Australia's depleted lineup with players one booking away from missing the opening match of the finals in South Africa. "Every player with a yellow card will not start. I have to make up my mind about the players sitting on the bench," the Dutchman told reporters. "The moment they go on the field they forget and they do what they always do. "I think it's better to finish world cup qualification with a team and a group that's ready to start the world cup." DIFFERENT LINE-UP While captain Lucas Neill is expected to return after suspension, Verbeek said Australia would field a vastly different defence compared to the line-up that beat fellow Group A team Bahrain 2-0 last week. "We play with a total new defence like last Wednesday (against Bahrain) which was already more or less a complete new defence if you compare it with the Qatar game," Verbeek said. "We play three different games with three different defending organisations. It's good. For me it's a great test, it's a great test for the players." Australia have negotiated a safe passage to South Africa without a hiccup and kept clean sheets in their last seven qualifiers. Despite that, Verbeek said his team of mainly Europe-based players had not been given enough respect at home, where celebrations were muted compared to the raucous partying that followed their qualification for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. "Yes, that is what I think. If you see what they did so far in one and a half years, the trips they had to make ... and again they are here (qualified)," Verbeek said. "I heard (Japan coach Takeshi) Okada-san left his foreign-based players out of the selection. I'd like to do that also... but when I do that we have no players left on the field. "But still, they did a fantastic job in very difficult circumstances... they will show and give everything they can to show the fans that we deserve to go to the World Cup."
16 June 2009
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