Will Verbeek risk all on the H factor? - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Will Verbeek risk all on the H factor?

By Doug Conway 06/06/2010 09:07:30 AM Comments (0)

Will Pim Verbeek roll the dice and gamble on Harry Kewell against Germany in Australia's biggest match in four years?

The H factor has been the burning question in the Socceroos camp for months, and it remains unanswered with just a week to go before their World Cup begins.

Kewell's absence was again the big talking point of Australia's final warm-up match in Roodepoort, a thrill-a-minute 3-1 defeat to the US on Saturday.

He sat on the bench throughout as Verbeek decided not to risk him, opting instead to field Josh Kennedy up front for the full 90 minutes.

The will-he-won't-he saga means Australian football's longest-running soap opera will probably continue right up until kick-off day against the Germans in Durban on June 13.

If Verbeek does risk his injury-prone star, Kewell will be entering the 2010 World Cup fray on a match preparation of exactly zero.

He has not had a minute of game time in any of Australia's three lead-up matches, the 2-1 defeat of New Zealand in Melbourne, the 1-0 win over Denmark in South Africa and Saturday's loss to the Americans.

In fact he has played only a few minutes of competitive football all year, at the end of a Turkish league match in April for his club side Galatasaray.

His training hit-outs in South Africa have also been restricted.

"If you ask 100 coaches `do you bring in a player who has had one session with the team?', you get 100 different opinions," Verbeek said after the US game.

"I was thinking of bringing him in but I thought it was better for him to train after the game.

"We still have eight days to go.

"It's much better for him to train than playing in a tough game like this."

Josh Kennedy, Kewell's replacement in attack, has made his name as an impact player coming off the bench.

Whether he has the right stuff to make a difference for 90 minutes against one of the top teams in the world is open to serious doubt.

How Kewell rates his recovery from his groin injury is anyone's guess, as Verbeek has ordered him to be shielded from the so far in South Africa.

Verbeek has insisted all along that Kewell will be alright on the night.

But he must be biting his fingernails now.

No matter how brave a face he puts on it, sending any player into a World Cup in such circumstances must qualify as a massive punt.

He has a week to mull it over.

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