|ESPNsoccernet: World Cup 2010|
Harry Kewell has launched an attack on the Australian media, accusing them of making up stories and colluding to undermine the Socceroos' World Cup campaign.
Kewell hits out at rumours
• Cahill gets one-match ban
The public tirade comes as the Socceroos come under siege from unprecedented media scrutiny and criticism in Australia following the team's 4-0 loss to Germany in their Group D opener on Sunday.
The Australian press have widely slammed the performance, if not the expected result, and coach Pim Verbeek's negative tactics and surprising selections. Former Socceroo turned SBS pundit Craig Foster sensationally said Verbeek should be sacked mid-campaign if he can't change his approach.
Kewell, who was left on the bench for the Germany match, was singled out by Fairfax journalist Michael Cockerill as being over-hyped and not matching his iconic status in Australian football with performances on the pitch in recent years. A visibly agitated Kewell demanded answers from Cockerill, who wasn't in attendance at the Australian camp, and hit out at reports of a rift between players and coach.
Kewell told reporters: "I think people are making things up. Speculation saying that there's a rift ... there is no rift. We are here trying to do our country proud and when you have people trying to stir the pot and say things that are not true it's disappointing."
Kewell claimed the Australian media "are supposed to be on our team" but instead were "having meetings" to determine what angles their collective coverage should take.
FFA chief Ben Buckley went to the extent of calling a press conference to calm rumours of unrest in the camp. Buckley said the players and the FFA were fully supportive of Verbeek in his attempt to turn things around and described question marks over his position as "nonsense". Verbeek will finish with the Australian team after the World Cup.
Kewell and fellow regular starting players Mark Bresciano and Josh Kennedy were left out of Verbeek's team to face Germany and didn't make it off the bench as the game turned into a damage limitation project for the Dutchman. Kewell and Bresciano did not take part in the warm-up on the pitch in Durban, sparking rumours Kewell was not fully fit as claimed and that the pair had had a falling out with the coach over their omissions. But Kewell insisted there were no problems with either his fitness or his relationship with the coach.
"I was told by my physio not to (warm up outside), to do my own preparation. I'm as fit as I can be. We all want to play, but we all can't play and it's the manager's decision and we've all stuck behind that. We are all right behind him, we've all got confidence in him to do the job. He's the boss and you do what your boss says. It is a shame that people don't get that into their thick heads."
Kewell is almost certain to start against Ghana on Saturday, when the Socceroos need a win to keep their second round hopes alive. Verbeek has stated he was preparing to bring Kewell on against Germany until Australia went down to ten men early in the second half.