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Big decisions go against Australia

sports Updated: Jun 20, 2010 15:47 IST
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Australian players and fans are shaking their heads in disbelief at the big refereeing decisions that keep going against the team at the World Cup. The Socceroos have had two influential stars given direct red cards in their two matches at the tournament as their chances of reaching the second round for a second successive time hang by a thread.

Everton midfielder Tim Cahill was sent off in the opening game against Germany for a late but clumsy challenge on Bastian Schweinsteiger, who later said the red card was not warranted. And in the latest controversy Harry Kewell was dismissed for handling on the line Asamoah Gyan's fierce goal-bound shot in the fighting 1-1 draw against Ghana in Rustenburg on Saturday.

Kewell's protests that the ball had merely hit his upper arm without any intent on his part were waved away.

Now Australia have the destiny of their World Cup campaign riding on other results.

The Socceroos also point to the controversial injury-time penalty for Lucas Neill bringing down Fabio Grosso with a disputed tackle that gave eventual champions Italy a 1-0 victory in the second round at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Australia were furious with Italian referee Roberto Rosetti's call which left them without Kewell for the last 65 minutes of Saturday's match against the Africans in Rustenburg.

"The guy has killed my World Cup," said Kewell, who was playing his first and possibly only match at the World Cup in South Africa.

"He is the referee, he's the judge, jury and executioner.

"Unless I detach my arm and put it somewhere else, there's no other way I can move my arm."

Coach Pim Verbeek said Rosetti's decision was a mistake.

"It was a mistake. What can you do with your arm? You cannot cut it off. As far as I know in the rules it has to be intentional to send a player off," the Dutchman said.

Skipper Lucas Neill also pointed out that Kewell received a red card for an unintentional act while Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic escaped with a yellow against Germany for an apparent deliberate hand ball.

"Serbia has conceded two hand-to-ball penalties," Neill said, "but this could only be interpreted as ball-to-hand."

Neill said refereeing decisions usually evened out like "swings and roundabouts".

But he quickly added: "Let's pray for a roundabout."

For Australia to have an outside chance of going through to the last 16, they must now beat Serbia in Nelspruit on Wednesday and hope that the simultaneous other Group D game between leaders Ghana and Germany in Johannesburg does not end in a draw.