Hearing Landon Donovan and Pim Verbeek within 24 hours of each other, you would think the spirit’s willing at this World Cup.
After Donovan referred to the American spirit following their comeback against Slovenia, Verbeek spoke about its Australian equivalent that sparked a resolute show from the Socceroos against Ghana on Saturday.
“We all know about the Australian spirit. We are famous for that. Still, we have to show it. For the past few days, the players had told everybody about it and today (Saturday) they showed it. They were not only telling things but doing it,” said Verbeek, Australia’s Dutch coach, after his team played with 10 men for 66 minutes.
“I know these players for the past two-and-a-half years. From the time they came for practice (after the 0-4 humiliation by Germany) you felt the difference, you knew they would be ready. The spirit was as good as it had been in the past two-and-a-half years.”
Verbeek was convinced Italian referee Roberto Rosetti had got the red card wrong. “It was a mistake of the referee and definitely not a red card. There have been some other hand balls in this competition, like the ones by Serbia, for example, and they didn’t fetch red cards. I never have a problem with referees. I make mistakes, my players make mistakes and referees make mistakes. Apart from that, I have no problem with him. I think he was very close to the action,” he said.
The Australia coach said the handball deserved a penalty but was unintentional and hence Harry Kewell shouldn’t have been expelled. “What can you do about your hand? You can’t cut it off.”
On Sunday, the FIFA disciplinary committee suspended Kewell for one match “for denying the opposite team a clear goalscoring opportunity.”
Killed my Cup: Kewell
Calling the referee the judge, the jury, the executor, Kewell said he hopes to get another chance in this World Cup. “I am devastated. I thought we had a grip on the game. He’s killed my World Cup. I didn’t mean to get sent off. I hope this isn’t my last World Cup game. I don’t want to leave it like that.”
Kewell, seen leaving the pitch seemingly shouting an f-word that wasn’t FIFA, agreed about the handball but asked whether it deserved an expulsion. “I was playing by the rules but the referee saw it another way. He was probably the only one who did.
“We’ve seen some decisions in this World Cup that haven’t been red cards. So why is this one different? That’s why everyone gets frustrated with referees because one minute they say this and the next minute they say that. The referee just told me to go. He’s made the decision. You can’t tell him what to do; he’s the judge, jury and executor.”