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Australia keep faith with goalless striker

sports Updated: Jun 11, 2009 12:19 IST

AFP
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Coach Pim Verbeek and teammates Thursday put their faith in striker Scott McDonald to break his frustrating international goalscoring drought after he registered another blank in his latest outing.

The diminutive 25-year-old Celtic marksman came up short again as the Socceroos went top of their Asian World Cup qualifying group after a 2-0 win over Bahrain in Sydney Wednesday.

McDonald may be a hero for the Scottish football giants, with 50 goals in 93 appearances, but he remains without an international goal in 12 appearances for Australia, who have already qualified for next year’s World Cup.

He had a great chance to break his barren spell midway through the first half of Wednesday’s qualifier after being put clear in front of goal only to blaze his snap volley over the bar.

While McDonald is becoming fed up with constant reminders from the media about his lack of goals for the Socceroos, he still has the support of Verbeek and senior Socceroo Harry Kewell.

Verbeek praised McDonald for getting into perfect position for his abortive volley, only to be let down by his first touch.

“He will always score goals, he will always be an interesting player for us and he is still at a good age,” the Dutchman said.

“I am not worried about Scotty, but we all know that a striker likes to score goals, especially if he hasn’t scored goals so far, but his moment will come.

“Maybe he will save his goals for the coming months and the World Cup.”

Kewell, who has himself been the target of detractors throughout his career, believes the gates will open once McDonald scores his first goal.

“There’s been a lot of people criticising Scotty and it’s just a shame that he’s not scoring as regularly for us as he does in the Scottish league,” Kewell said.

“I think he’s putting a little too much pressure on himself, he just has to relax and he’s a great striker.

“He looked well throughout our training, so hopefully he can get that goal and calm his nerves. Once he gets one they’ll just flow for him.”

McDonald became agitated with reporters when his lack of international goals was raised before the Bahrain match.

“Obviously, I’d like to get a crack at this elusive goal that keeps haunting me now, apparently,” he said.

“This is the last time I’m going to talk about it because it’s an ongoing saga and it will be until I score.”

With strike partner Josh Kennedy likely to have recovered from injury, McDonald may miss out on breaking that elusive duck in Australia’s final qualifier against Japan in Melbourne next Wednesday.