Asian Cup: Cahill closes in on filling his career CV with a prestigious trophy win

Tim Cahill will be leading the Australia front line as the Socceroos take on South Korea to decide the 2015 Asian champions. -- PHOTO: AFP
Tim Cahill will be leading the Australia front line as the Socceroos take on South Korea to decide the 2015 Asian champions. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Tim Cahill has attracted countless plaudits and the fierce devotion of many fans over his long career but, on Saturday, Australia's favourite footballing son could finally get his hands on some serious silverware.

A runners-up medal with Australia at the 2011 Asian Cup and another two after losing English FA Cup finals with Millwall and Everton are a relatively paltry return for 17 years in the professional game.

In front of 80,000 of his fellow Sydneysiders on Saturday, though, Cahill will be leading the Australia front line as the Socceroos take on South Korea to decide the 2015 Asian champions.

Now one of the few thirtysomethings in the squad Ange Postecoglou has rebuilt since he took over as coach in October 2013, Cahill serves as talisman, inspiration and, most importantly, goal-scorer.

"I am really proud of the boys, the staff and everyone that has backed us from the start," he said after a 2-0 victory over United Arab Emirates in Tuesday's semi-final.

"During the 14 months, the journey has been amazing. Now, we have to focus on one of the biggest games in Australian football history."

Anyone who thought Cahill's powers might be on the wane towards the end of his career will have been forced to reassess over the last seven months.

His stunning volley against the Netherlands was one of the best goals at last year's World Cup and he produced a brilliant bicycle kick as part of a two-goal effort to see off China in the Asian Cup quarter-finals last week.

They are just two of the 39 goals he has scored in 81 matches in the green and gold since he made his debut for Australia in 2004, making him his country's most prolific scorer.

Cahill has made it clear that the Asian Cup will not be his Socceroos swan song and has indicated he may play on until the 2018 World Cup, which will be his fourth.