Harry Kewell has lashed out at suggestions he is behind a supposed rift in the Socceroos' camp following Pim Verbeek's failure to bring him on as a substitute during Australia's disastrous 4-0 loss to Germany in its opening World Cup game.
Just hours after Football Federation Australia boss Ben Buckley was forced to deny a split between coach Verbeek and some of his most senior players following the Dutchman's bizarre team selections for the opening match - in which he not only left out Kewell but also other regular Socceroos in Mark Bresciano and Josh Kennedy - and Kewell was adamant his relationship with Verbeek remains solid.
Throughout Australia's time in South Africa, Kewell has insisted he is fit to play despite having played only two minutes of football in the past six months due to a groin problem, with the 31-year-old having looked impressive in training.
But while Verbeek was not expected to start with Kewell against Germany given his lack of match fitness, it was a huge shock that players such as Brett Holman and Nikita Rukavystya were bought on as second-half substitutes ahead of him at a time when the Socceroos were already trailing badly and needed a goal.
However Kewell denied he had fallen out with Verbeek over his decision and said he remained loyal to the Dutchman ahead of Australia's must-win second group game against Ghana in Rustenberg on Saturday.
"People are taking this World Cup and trying to make it into a bad one - they are always having a go at us, having a go at the manager," he said before Socceroos' training here on Wednesday night.
"Of course I was disappointed to be left out (of the Germany game), a few players were disappointed."
"But that is the manager's choice - he had a plan and he stuck with it and we all agreed to it and it was unfortunate that we lost."
Kewell was furious at suggestions he was behind a player rift with Verbeek just because he had not been selected to face Germany.
"It's a shame you (the media) are all having a go at us," he said.
"People are just making stuff up and I am fully supportive of him (Verbeek)."
Kewell said he would also accept Verbeek's decision if he again overlooked him for the Ghana match although that seems unlikely given Australia's desperate need for goals and the absence of the country's most prolific scorer in recent times, Tim Cahill, due to suspension.
"That is his decision," Kewell said of Verbeek when asked whether he expected to play against Ghana.
"At the end of the day he is the boss and it's like anyone else who has got bosses, you do what your boss says and it's a shame people don't get it in their thick heads that it's his (Verbeek's) rules and you follow by his rules."
Kewell also defended his decision not to warm up with the rest of the Australian substitutes during the Germany match, which some took as the former Leeds and Liverpool superstar sending out a protest to Verbeek over his refusal to pick him.
"I was told by my physio and my trainer not to do it and again it's speculation to say there is a rift (between Verbeek and Kewell) - there is no rift," he said.
"I have to do my specific (fitness) work before going out so I stayed in with the blessing of the manager (Verbeek) and the head physio."