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Australia beat Bahrain to extend unbeaten streak

June 10, 2009 19:34 IST

Australia maintained their unbeaten record in the final round of Asian World Cup qualifiers with a 2-0 win over Bahrain at the Olympic stadium on Wednesday.

Midfielder Mile Sterjovski broke the deadlock when he scored in the 55th minute and left back David Carney sealed the Group One win with a goal in the 88th.

Bahrain are still in the hunt to reach their first World Cup but need a point from their last match against Uzbekistan next week to be absolutely sure of making the playoffs.

Australia fielded a mostly second-string team having already secured their place at next year's World Cup in South Africa when they held Qatar to a goalless draw in Doha at the weekend.

After a slow start the home side took control of the match in the second half despite squandering a series of chances to win by a bigger margin.

"I think we created enough chances to score more than two goals," Australia coach Pim Verbeek said in a televised interview. "We were probably not really sharp enough to finish it off.

"A lot of new players came into the team but if you win the game 2-0 I think you've done everything you have to do."


Despite making seven changes to the starting lineup, the Australians extended their impressive record of not conceding a goal in any of their seven games so far in the last stage of qualifying.

They play Japan, who have also qualified for South Africa, in their last group match in Melbourne next week.

Australia struggled in the first half, with striker Scott McDonald missing a golden chance to score, but they took control after the break.

Sterjovski pounced on a defensive error to score then Carney reacted quickly to poke home a rebound after a bicycle kick by Jason Culina hit the post.

Australia were unlucky not to score a third with Harry Kewell also hitting the woodwork.

That prompted goalkeeper and stand-in captain Mark Schwarzer to launched a spirited defence of the team's tactics after they were criticised during the qualifiers for not scoring enough.

"I'm extremely proud (of) the way the whole team and management have gone about their job the whole campaign, they've been extremely professional," Schwarzer said.

"I think if we can push on again against Japan and keep another clean sheet, we can't do any better than that.

"It's very hard to understand how difficult the conditions (in Asia) are at times. You need to go away and just get the job done, sometimes it's not pretty."

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