Cahill to reprise crucial role as Japan's nemesis

MELBOURNE • Australia coach Ange Postecoglou will unleash Japan's bogeyman Tim Cahill at some point during their World Cup qualifier in Melbourne today but said the veteran striker remains short of match fitness.

Cahill played only a few minutes of the Socceroos' 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia in their previous qualifier in Jeddah and has started just one competitive match in the last few months for new A-League club Melbourne City.

The Samurai Blue are unlikely to take too much comfort from that, however, with the 36-year-old having proved their nemesis in big games in the past.

At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, he came off the bench to score twice in the Socceroos' 3-1 win over Japan in a group match, and he also scored a brace in their last qualifier in Melbourne in 2009.

After a long trip back from the Middle East, Postecoglou said Cahill had put his hand up for a starting role but suggested the player might be disappointed.

"As pointed out to me, he has got a great record against Japan," the coach said. "But he's got a pretty good record against most nations."

On seven points after three games, Australia lead Asia's Group B on goal difference from Saudi Arabia and victory would go a long way to securing a fourth successive World Cup appearance.

Japan, who won their last qualifier against Iraq with a 95th-minute strike, are third on six points.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2016, with the headline 'Cahill to reprise crucial role as Japan's nemesis'. Print Edition | Subscribe