Aussie Tim Cahill not guar­an­teed of fourth World Cup

The Borneo Post - - SPORT - By Ja­son Dasey

AF­TER Aus­tralia’s in-form striker was left out of their Russia 2018 squad, vet­eran Tim Cahill would also have no guar­an­tees of mak­ing the fi­nal cut for his fourth con­sec­u­tive World Cup.

De­spite scor­ing a hat trick against Rangers on Sun­day and eight goals in his last 13 matches, Hibernian’s Jamie Ma­claren wasn’t se­lected to join Cahill and co.

in a 26-man train­ing camp in Tur­key, be­gin­ning this week.

The squad will be re­duced to 23 ahead of the open­ing match against France in Kazan on June 16.

That means three more play­ers will be trimmed by Dutch head coach Bert van Mar­wijk, with Cahill vul­ner­a­ble af­ter play­ing just 62 min­utes since join­ing English sec­ond-tier side Mill­wall in Jan­uary.

It didn’t help that he missed the club’s fi­nal two matches of the sea­son af­ter a retrospective ban for vi­o­lent con­duct against Ful­ham on April 20th.

Cahill turns 39 in De­cem­ber and has failed to score a goal in 17 ap­pear­ances for Mill­wall and his for­mer A- League side, Mel­bourne City, since the be­gin­ning of this sea­son.

His crit­ics claim that he has been se­lected for the Soc­ceroos for com­mer­cial rea­sons, with their main spon­sor Cal­tex hav­ing made Cahill the face of their World Cup cam­paign be­fore the an­nounce­ment of the squad.

The petrol sta­tion chain has been re-named “Cahill­tex”, with the im­age of the for­mer Ever­ton at­tacker plas­tered over bill­boards.

With the likes of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka hav­ing long re­tired, Cahill re­mains the most recog­nis­able face of a squad lack­ing in star- qual­ity.

Aaron Mooy ( Hud­der­s­field) and Tom Rogic ( Celtic) may be mak­ing more an im­pact on the field in Bri­tain’s top leagues, but these 20-some­things sim­ply don’t have the brand value of the old war­rior who has scored 50 in­ter­na­tional goals.

“Ab­so­lutely not,” was the stern re­sponse of Football Fed­er­a­tion Aus­tralia ( FFA) boss David Gal­lop when asked if com­mer­cial rea­sons forced Van Mar­wijk’s hand with his selec­tion.

“Have a look at Tim Cahill’s track record,” Gal­lop said.

“He’s a guy who has pro­duced for the Soc­ceroos and Aus­tralia so many times. He’s go­ing to Tur­key. He’s got a few weeks of in­tense train­ing and he’ll be right up there [ for fi­nal selec­tion].” Cahill was Aus­tralia’s hero when they pre­vailed over a stub­born Syria in an AFC World Cup play­off last Oc­to­ber.

His two goals, in­clud­ing the sec­ond in ex­tra time in Syd­ney, en­sured a 3-2 ag­gre­gate vic­tory over a West Asian side who were un­lucky not to cause a ma­jor up­set.

But in the sub­se­quent A-League sea­son, Cahill didn’t pose his usual threat.

With his play­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties lim­ited, he fell out with Mel­bourne City coach War­ren Joyce be­fore leav­ing the club by mu­tual con­sent last De­cem­ber.

One of eight for­wards at the pre-World Cup train­ing camp, Cahill could be vy­ing with Nikita Rukavyt­sya, Dimi Pe­tratos, Andrew Nab­bout and the un­capped Daniel Arzani to avoid the cru­elest cut.

One at­tacker is likely to miss out of the fi­nal 23, with Europe­based Mat Leckie, Rob­bie Kruse and Tom Juric con­sid­ered cer­tain­ties to be se­lected, bar­ring in­jury.

But should Cahill prove his fit­ness in Tur­key, he is worth a place in a squad short of world- class qual­ity.

While his re­duced phys­i­cal at­tributes mean that he isn’t the same player who scored in three pre­vi­ous World Cup tour­na­ments, his en­thu­si­asm is in­fec­tious.

Sim­ply hav­ing Cahill in the dress­ing room and see­ing him come off the bench in Russia will bring out the best in his team­mates.

Along with cap­tain Mile Je­d­i­nak whose man- of-the­match per­for­mance against Mid­dles­brough helped As­ton Villa earn a place in the Cham­pi­onship play­off fi­nal at Wem­b­ley – a door­way into the Premier League – Cahill is a proven win­ner.

He’s never let the Soc­ceroos down be­fore.

But do spare a thought for the un­lucky Ma­claren who has strug­gled for op­por­tu­ni­ties un­der both Van Mar­wijk and pre­vi­ous boss Ange Postecoglou.

How he failed to get the nod in the 26-man squad ahead of Rukavyt­sya or Pe­tratos is puz­zling.

While the Scot­tish Pre­mier­ship may pale in com­par­i­son to La Liga, the Bun­desliga or the Premier League, it is strong enough to sug­gest that Ma­claren would have been a threat in Russia for the goal-shy Soc­ceroos, who are still turn­ing to­wards ‘ Ún­cle Timmy Cahill­tex’ for inspiration.

* Ja­son Dasey is Sin­ga­pore­based TV broad­caster and event em­cee.

Twit­ter: @ Ja­sonDasey “What­ever the case, I’m aim­ing to en­sure the whole team has a pos­i­tive men­tal at­ti­tude to­wards achiev­ing its goals.

“Rather than a player say­ing ‘ I’ve taken seven or eight penal­ties and keep miss­ing them’, we try to break that nexus and find pos­i­tive mo­ments.

Let’s make it about how you’d like the next penalty to be.” If Syd­ney FC beat Shang­hai Shen­hua at Al­lianz Sta­dium next Tues­day and Su­won fail to win in Japan against the al­ready- qual­i­fied Kashima, the Aussies can book their place in the ACL Round of 16 next month.

And then their emo­tional in­tel­li­gence will need to lift to a whole, new level.

* For­mer Astro host Ja­son Dasey is Singapore-based TV broad­caster and event em­cee.

Twit­ter: @ Ja­sonDasey

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