Team not affected by Kewell hearing
Socceroos coach Guus Hiddink doesn’t believe the disciplinary hearing involving Harry Kewell has affected the team ahead of Thursday’s crucial game against Croatia in Stuttgart.
Socceroos coach Guus Hiddink doesn-t believe the disciplinary hearing involving Harry Kewell has affected the team ahead of Thursday-s crucial game against Croatia in Stuttgart.
Kewell was cleared by the FIFA disciplinary hearing yesterday after he was reported by referee Markus Merk following an outburst at the end of the match against Brazil.
The Liverpool midfielder was absent from training on Monday, but was present Tuesday afternoon and in good spirits.
"No, not at all, it was not a distraction," said Hiddink at the team's official press conference ahead of the match that will decide which team advances to the second round.
"Those things happen in what I call 'hot games' when things are coming up afterwards," Hiddink said.
"But it was not distracting, not to me and not to the team. Issues like that happen. We went on yesterday in training and there was not a lot of talk about this and it will not have any influence on tomorrow's game."
Hiddink said that Kewell is fine mentally and gave an indication that he will play a significant part in the match against Croatia.
"He is okay. When he came in against Brazil he was playing a good role and he had the chance to make the equaliser. I think he is up for something big, whether it's from the start or later on in the game.
"I think he showed me yesterday again he is fully fit mentally, physically and we know he is not in top, top shape but with his special ability he can be of huge importance."
Hiddink also looked to hose down any concerns over the referee, in what could be a very emotional and physical clash between the two sides that match up very similar in style.
The Dutchman didn-t even know who had been appointed to the game, until told at the press conference it would be Englishman Graham Poll, a face not unknown to many of Australia-s players in the Premier League.
"I don-t care too much about refereeing, because I think everyone should be neutral when going into a game and should let the game happen," he said.
"They should go in and smell the game and not be conditioned beforehand.
"If you see the England-Sweden game last night, it was guided and conducted by the referee very properly. Although it was a good game technically, it was also physical game and there is nothing wrong with that.
"As long as we try to play football, with physical parts in it, then I think yesterday evening was a perfect example, as a referee how to cope with that."