Following the Socceroos 2-1 defeat to Japan in Yanmar Nagai Stadium a bullish Tim Cahill fronted the media full of confidence, convinced the team were heading in the right direction.
“I thought the performance was brilliant. I thought the first half was excellent, I thought the football was really good. I thought we caused them problems, we restricted them to playing the long ball.
“The only thing is we didn’t reward ourselves with the result overall, and two set plays were probably the difference tonight.
“They punished us really badly because I felt that we had control of this game tonight, and I think they were probably surprised with the way that we played,” said the combative forward.
Brought on in the 72nd minute for Matt McKay, the Socceroos were chasing the game at 2 nil down, hoping that the man who not only had 4 goals in 7 games against Japan but also 8 of the last 12 goals for the Socceroos could once again rise to the occasion. And rise to the occasion is exactly what he did both literally and figuratively as he headed home a pinpoint cross from the left by Aziz Behich in the dying stages.
As good as the goal was to make the score line more reflective of the contest, it further sounded alarm bells that the Australian team relied too much on the soon to be 35 year old. Cahill dismissed this though by putting a vote of confidence in for his younger and less-experienced teammates.
“For me I don’t think it’s a concern because I train with these players every day and I know what we can do and what can be done in the Asian Cup and I can see the bigger picture,” claimed Cahill.
It is possible that Cahill and fellow veteran Mark Bresciano could be used off the bench as impact subs by coach Ange Postecoglou during the Asian Cup. Australia’s leading goal scorer wasn’t concerned though and had predicted before the game he’d have an impact regardless. The match against Japan supported this assertion too.
“Whether it’s 90 minutes or 20 minutes I’ll always make an impact,” declared Cahill.
“When I came on, [the game was] a bit physical, I made sure the centre backs respected me a little, and then after I got the respect they sat back and obviously I got that goal.
“You’ve just got to try and help bring some energy because we had the energy in the first half and we lacked a bit at the start of the second half. It is what it is and like I’ve said time and time again, I make myself fit for any game and it’s just disappointing we didn’t get the result tonight.”
Results have been hard to come by for Postecoglou and his chargers with only two wins from twelve games and some patchy performances that have at best shown glimpses of the vision the coach has for the team. With the Asian Cup just around the corner there is a concern that Australia could be humbled on their home turf but Cahill was adamant things would turn around when it counts.
“I’m not scared. Because I know when we’re playing at home in front of 40,000 people and we put other teams in uncomfortable environments, we have to be the team that finishes the game at home.
“Well we got what it takes to be competitive and we’ll see what we can do. I don’t want to sound like someone who’s overconfident but we got to that 2011 [Asian Cup] final banged up. Me, Harry, all the boys, we were strapping ourselves up.
“If we could have that opportunity again I know that we could put it right. But overall, we can’t be too overly confident we’ve just got to basically keep working in the camps and we’ve just got to basically keep working hard in the camps and we’ve got to take a lot of positives from tonight.
“So the test is going to be in January but either way, my job’s only going to be making sure that my body’s ready for January and I’ve prepared myself since the World Cup and before the World Cup, and prior to this [match] to be in every camp and to be as physically fit as possible.”
A maximum of three club games remain for Cahill whose New York Red Bulls face off against the New England Revolution in the two-legged MLS Eastern Conference Finals. The winners of that tie will face either the Seattle Sounders or LA Galaxy in the MLS Cup final scheduled for December 7th. Cahill though is sure he’ll be fit and ready to go for Australia’s first Asian Cup match on the 9th of January agaimst Kuwait.
“Well my plan is to at least have ten days off and then straight back into training. It’s not hard, it’s not really like I ever rest and have an offseason, but my training load is always monitored and my body [too], it’s what I do, it’s what I love to do so I can’t see myself wanting to rest too long so we’ll see what happens,” Cahill told reporters.