Outgoing coach Pim Verbeek has admitted the Socceroos committed World Cup ‘suicide’ with their opening match hammering by Germany.
The Dutchman accepted responsibility but will depart never having fully explained the tactical flapping and left-field team selections which most have blamed for Australia’s awful 4-0 hammering in Durban to start the tournament.
From there, it was all catch-up, and there was simply not enough time.
The Socceroos fell three goals short of qualification for the round of 16 on goal difference after their 2-1 win over Serbia and Germany’s 1-0 defeat of Ghana on Wednesday.
Verbeek praised his players’ performance, but admitted their first match hammering by the powerful Germans had proved the difference between second stage qualification and exit.
“Absolutely,” he said when asked if the Germany match had been the key factor in their group stage elimination.
“The moment we lost 4-0 we knew we had to win two games. In the end the goal difference made a difference and we can only blame ourselves for that.”
“I’m disappointed for the players because they gave everything in the last two and a half years to go to the final 16.
“I’m not going to speak about Germany any more. “You can blame the red card, you can blame the individual mistakes, we were not good, that’s clear.”
“Great performance today, great performance against Ghana, but we’re not in the round of 16.”
While Verbeek worked wonders to guide Australia through a difficult 14-match, two-stage Asian qualification campaign, he will ultimately be judged on his failure in South Africa.
But he departs the Socceroos to take on Morocco’s under-age teams with an excellent overall record in coaching terms.
Of Verbeek’s 32 matches in his two and a half years in charge, he won 18, lost just five and his defence-minded team kept clean sheets in more than half their games.
“We have had fantastic support from the fans, against Ghana, here against Serbia, all through the qualification campaign,” Verbeek said.
“I have had a fantastic two and a half years being with Australia, great players, great support.
“I think everybody did everything we could to qualify for the last 16.”