Cahill’s answer to selection debate ‘noise’
TIM Cahill admits it would be emotional to step onto the World Cup arena for a fourth time, as he prepares for a potential Socceroos swansong in this week's Peru decider.
Australia's greatest goalscorer has not played a minute in Russia, but having not missed a day of Australia's brutal 35-day World Cup training regime is ready to step up if called upon, with starting striker Andrew Nabbout (dislocated shoulder) ruled out.
Tomi Juric is favoured to replace Nabbout although he is still feeling the effects of a knee injury he brought into World Cup camp, with Cahill and late call-up Jamie Maclaren the other options.
Debate is raging as to whether the Socceroos' biggest of big game players should be unleashed from the start for what could be his last international, with a win needed to advance to the Round of 16.
Cahill, who is also one goal away from joining Pele and Cristiano Ronaldo among just four players to have ever scored at four World Cups, remained focused as hopes rise of a 2006 repeat.
"I'm not bothered at all by the noise,'' Cahill said. "Just to step onto the pitch for me will be pretty emotional. If I get on that pitch, I'll try and make something happen.
"Even when people knocked my choices in getting here, it was all for one goal. It was difficult but I've got here.
"In Germany (2006) we got through with four points, South Africa (2010) we got four points but didn't get through. Brazil (2014) we didn't get any points.
"There were always three games, not one. It's a big test."
Cahill, whose scored many decisive goals among his 50 in 106 games, knows his role if unleashed in Sochi. But only Bert van Marwijk's inner circle know what he's thinking.
In their first Socceroos camp in March, van Marwijk told Cahill he needed to play more minutes.
The fact that he played just 63 minutes for Millwall since is probably the main reason he's used Cahill sparingly, in substitute appearances against Colombia and
Where Ange Postecoglou may have already used the veteran and a role in the Peru decider would be almost inevitable, it's unknown just how "trust" he has in Cahill or how much stock van Marwijk places on his "sixth sense".
"He is a special case. He is special in everything. He is 38 and maybe one of the best ever players for Australia. He is a very good striker," van Marwijk said when he selected the Russia squad.
Cahill has continued to defy the odds, most recently netting a brace in an inspirational, logic-defying 120 minutes to oust Syria from the playoffs last October when he'd played just 44 FFA Cup minutes for Melbourne City in the preceding three months.
"Whatever they implement as a tactic, my job is to come on and pick up the loose balls or take defenders back to make room for (my teammates),'' he said.
"A lot happened in the last 15 minutes (of his last game, against Hungary) so I was really happy, with the data as well. Covered a lot of ground, high intensity was good and the impact of the sub was positive."
Cahill, who cherishes his Socceroos memories, said qualifying was the focus rather than personal milestones. But his insatiable work ethic has him standing on the precipice of history.
Underrated is Cahill's professionalism, which saw him come into camp sharp and shredded, despite his paltry club minutes.
Returning to his US home after the English Championship season, he completed an intensive fitness regime to ensure he hit the ground running in Turkey.
"I couldn't have had those moments if I wasn't focused, professional and in the gym and training hard. They're some of the best moments in my life,'' Cahill said.
"I don't look at that's the record to break, I look at trying to be part of creating history for Australia, as an Australian and people embracing that and seeing the commitment and service I've done for the country."