By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia coach Pim Verbeek took little heart from the Socceroos' scrappy 2-1 win over New Zealand in a World Cup warm-up match on Monday.
"I know we trained quite hard this week but you expect more from the players," a stony-faced Verbeek told reporters of an abysmal first half in which the team conceded a goal, were handed three yellow cards and looked a shambles.
"No confidence, there was no communication, everything they normally do very well was not there," he added.
"We couldn't keep the ball in the team, gave it too easily away and I think New Zealand was very dangerous."
The match left Verbeek with plenty to ponder given the Socceroos' seasoned defense was bamboozled repeatedly by the 78th-ranked All Whites' tall strikers.
Australia forwards Tim Cahill and Scott McDonald never threatened in front of goal.
Cahill and fellow 2006 World Cup veteran Vince Grella were taken off at halftime following crude tackles and the normally dangerous Mark Bresciano was also substituted after appearing a lost soul in midfield.
Verbeek slammed Grella and Cahill for their studs-up tackles and the dour Dutchman was scarcely more enthusiastic about the second-half rally which was capped off by a stoppage-time winner from Brett Holman.
"Okay, it's nice, it's good to finish a game like that. It's just for statistics," he said.
Verbeek can hope to bolster his attacking options for South Africa with the return of playmaker Harry Kewell, striker Josh Kennedy and regular midfielder Brett Emerton, who were all rested.
But he was short of answers about how the Socceroos' would cope against the tall forwards of Group D rivals Germany and Serbia in South Africa after their defenders were badly exposed in the air by the All Whites.
"We can do something about that," Verbeek said. "But it's a good lesson today, no doubt about that."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)