Cahill fac­tor haunts Ja­pan in Aus­tralia show­down

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

THE Tim Cahill fac­tor threat­ens Ja­pan’s hopes of re-en­er­gis­ing their World Cup cam­paign in a cru­cial qual­i­fier against Aus­tralia in Mel­bourne to­day. The tal­is­manic Cahill is in line for a re­call for the Soc­ceroos against Ja­pan in the Asia qual­i­fy­ing Group B match, 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 the Asian qual­i­fiers, with China des­per­ately need­ing a win in Tashkent against Uzbek­istan A to keep their faint hopes alive in Group B, while so far point-less 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar play Syria.

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

Iran and South Korea are each pro­tect­ing un­beaten starts to the Asian qual­i­fiers in an­other 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 in the past.

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 could even 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 Ara­bia] 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 each. Ja­pan and the UAE are one point be­hind in the race for the two au­to­matic World Cup qual­i­fy­ing spots.

Mean­while, it is make-or-break time for China, who were stunned 1-0 at home by Syria ear­lier this week as they slipped to fifth in Group A.

Seventy-eighth ranked China have am­bi­tions of one day 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.

2022 hosts 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. –

Photo: AFP

Eng­land’s de­fender Gary Cahill fights with Malta mid­fielder Paul Fenech for the ball dur­ing a World Cup 2018 foot­ball qual­i­fi­ca­tion match in Lon­don on Oc­to­ber 8. Eng­land won 2-0.

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