Cahill set for Socceroo homecoming
Photo Source: AAP
Socceroos great Tim Cahill is ready for whatever role Ange Postecoglou has planned for him as he prepares to face the team he's produced some of his biggest moments against.
Australia takes on Japan in a crunch World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night at Etihad Stadium.
It will be Cahill's first national team match in Victoria since his high-profile move to Melbourne City.
Unable to produce his usual heroics in a five-minute spell off the bench in the pulsating 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia, Cahill is considered unlikely to start due to a lack of A-League minutes and Tomi Juric's goalscoring form - but the sheer sight of him could be enough to strike fear into the heart of a battling Samurai Blue outfit.
The 36-year-old has scored five times against Japan - two of those goals coming in Australia's iconic 3-1 victory at the 2006 World Cup, and another two in a qualifier at the MCG in 2009.
"Some amazing memories against a lot of these Asian teams. I've been lucky enough to score a lot of goals against them - Japan in 2006, World Cup qualifiers and so on. It'll be a special night," he said.
"But it's about the team gunning for three points.
"I'm here ready if I start or don't start. It's going to be a massive game and hopefully a full house in my new home city."
Japan is third in a tight Group B, one point and goal difference behind the Socceroos, who still sit in first position despite letting a golden chance slip in Jeddah.
However, one silver lining was the performance of Juric, who has started in Australia's last three games and appears to have overtaken Cahill as the team's first-choice No.9.
Robbie Kruse provided the assist for Juric's fourth international goal, which put them 2-1 up, and said he was pleased to see his teammate kicking on.
"The media or the public in Australia place a lot of emphasis on Timmy and we all know how great a striker he is, still now to this day," Kruse said.
"Obviously everyone's trying to find the new Tim Cahill but Tomi Juric is just being Tomi Juric.
"He's coming into his own, he's getting better every game and he's starting to get a lot more experience as well.
"There's no better player to learn from than Timmy."
Cahill admitted Saudi Arabia "surprised" the Socceroos in a technical sense.
"It's just one of those ones where we know we could've got way more out of the game," he said.
"We have to make sure we learn from this result, it's a draw, we're still top of the group and we've got a big game against Japan, but they're all big games now."