Cahill fac­tor haunts Ja­pan in Aus­tralia show­down

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

The Tim Cahill fac­tor threat­ens Ja­pan’s hopes of re-en­er­gis­ing their World Cup cam­paign in a cru­cial qual­i­fier against Aus­tralia in Mel­bourne today.

Tal­is­manic Cahill is in line for a re­call for the Soc­ceroos against the Blue Sa­mu­rai in the Asia qual­i­fy­ing Group B en­counter after play­ing only a few min­utes as sub­sti­tute in Aus­tralia’s 2-2 draw with Saudi Ara­bia in Jed­dah last week. It is also an im­por­tant night else­where in Asia with China des­per­ately need­ing a win against Uzbek­istan in Group A in Tashkent to keep their faint hopes alive and the so far point-less 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar at home to Syria.

The Saudis again have home ad­van­tage against Gulf ri­vals United Arab Emi­rates, while Tehran hosts an in­ter-group dou­ble­header with Iraq and Thai­land seek­ing their first points in an af­ter­noon game in the Ira­nian cap­i­tal.

Iran and South Korea are pro­tect­ing their un­beaten starts to the Asian cam­paign in the evening kick-off. Ja­pan hold a win­ning 8-7 record over reign­ing Asian Cup cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia, but they have had prob­lems pre­vent­ing the mer­cu­rial Cahill from scor­ing against them.

Cahill, 36, who has re­turned home to play in the A-League with Mel­bourne City after 18 years ply­ing his trade over­seas, has scored five of his 48 in­ter­na­tional goals against the Ja­panese.

His scor­ing record against them could sway coach Ange Postecoglou to start him after late sub­sti­tute ap­pear­ances in the last two Rus­sia 2018 qual­i­fiers. “We’ll be ready against Ja­pan and look­ing for­ward to it. I’m here ready if I start or don’t start and we all have to be,” Cahill said. “I got five min­utes (against Saudi) and I’ve got some amaz­ing mem­o­ries to score a lot of goals against th­ese Asian teams.” Aus­tralia and Saudi Ara­bia lead Group B with seven points. Ja­pan and the UAE are one point be­hind in the race for the two au­to­matic World Cup qual­i­fy­ing spots.

It is make-or-break time for China, who were stunned 1-0 at home by war-rav­aged Syria ear­lier this week as they slipped to fifth in Group A. Seventy-eighth ranked China have am­bi­tions of host­ing and even win­ning a World Cup, but have reg­u­larly foundered in their qual­i­fy­ing cam­paigns and face the Uzbeks, who have al­ready beaten Syria and Qatar. Qatar can­not af­ford an­other slip-up after suf­fer­ing their third straight de­feat to South Korea in Su­won and must beat the Syr­i­ans in Doha.

Dutch coach Bert van Mar­wijk will be look­ing to press home the Saudis’ ad­van­tage over ri­vals UAE after this week’s draw with Aus­tralia, while Iran have yet to con­cede a goal so far as they face Uli Stielike’s South Korea, seek­ing their 10th World Cup ap­pear­ance. —AFP

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