COMMENT: Is Joel Griffiths the man Verbeek is looking for?

The Australian national team needs goalscoring options to take to the World Cup.

Head coach Pim Verbeek has very few out and out strikers on his hands and is generally forced to put players in uncustomary positions to try and get the best out of them.

Of course there is Everton’s Tim Cahill who has scored 19 goals in 37 appearances in the green and gold and has often been the Socceroos’ saviour in recent times but it is too much to rely on him and it is also too much to say that Australia can get past nations such as Germany, Ghana and Serbia playing a defensive style.

In 27 matches since Verbeek took over in December 2007, Australia has scored just 34 goals with 10 of those coming in three matches against Qatar. If you take those matches out of the equation, the stats read 24 goals in 24 matches – not nearly promising enough to take any confidence into the sport’s biggest tournament.

If you look at Australia’s other top scorers who are likely to be in the 23-man squad for South Africa, it doesn’t bode well.

Towering Nagoya Grampus forward Josh Kennedy has six goals in 18 international appearances and often looks threatening in the air but that is about the height of his abilities.
Galatasaray’s Harry Kewell has been a scoring option for a number of years now and bobs up with vital goals on the odd occasion but he is as consistent in the treatment room as he is hitting the back of the net.
The other top scorers are in the form of Blackburn Rovers midfielder Brett Emerton but his high volume of appearances takes away his scoring regularity whilst Palermo’s Mark Bresciano scores about once every five games from midfield and is also currently sidelined with injury.
Scott Chipperfield is the only other Socceroo in double figures for international goals but plays predominantly as a left-back and at 34 is not about to become a frequent avenue to goal.

It leaves Verbeek with very few options but there is one player who has to be staking a claim with consistent scoring performances in China.

His name is Joel Griffiths and has been around for a while but has constantly been overlooked for national squads and has been given very few opportunities to prove himself at international level.

The 30-year old former Newcastle Jets star is creative up the pitch and deadly around goal, making him a good mix of exactly what Verbeek requires.

Griffiths helped Beijing Guoan to the Chinese Super League title last season, scoring eight goals in 20 appearances and already this term has fired home on five occasions, three in the Asian Champions League to guide Beijing into the Round of 16 and twice in five league matches as his club sits second.

Griffiths is capable of scoring in the air or on the ground and possesses a deft touch which assists him to get around defenders and create clear chances on goal but this has not been seen in a gold shirt for a few years now.

Surely he deserves a chance to show his wares when New Zealand come to Melbourne for an international friendly late next month but if he doesn’t, Verbeek would have missed a good opportunity to add a true goalscorer to his World Cup outfit.

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