Football: World Cup in Qatar ideal for Three Lions triumph, says Tim Cahill

Former football star Tim Cahill said the location and timing of the World Cup could help the English players reach peak form. ST PHOTO: SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ

DOHA - The Nov 20-Dec 18 World Cup in Qatar could provide the perfect setting for England to end over half a century of hurt, former Everton and Millwall midfielder Tim Cahill said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a round-table session with international media at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, the former Australia star said the uniqueness of the first World Cup in the northern hemisphere to be held in the winter – which will see the English Premier League pause for a month – could help the English players peak in Qatar.
Cahill said: “You’re seven hours away. It’s a trip I make overnight, very easily. No jet lag.

“And the players in your squad, when you break it across your frontline and what you’ve got to pick from... you have one of the best set-ups in world football today, and... Gareth Southgate will be one of the first ones that will champion an opportunity for them to realistically win.

“The squad’s great, the location is great, the timing of the season is even better, and it’s going to be all about high performance... my outside shout is England to win the World Cup.”

England manager Southgate said in March that he told his players they have what it takes to go one better than their performance in 2018 and reach the final, where they can win the coveted prize. But this is only if they perform “as close to perfect as can be” in the tournament.

In Russia in 2018, the Three Lions reached the semi-final, only to lose to eventual runners-up Croatia in extra time.

England’s only World Cup triumph came in 1966, when they hosted the tournament.
Key players like 29-year-old captain Harry Kane and 27-year-old winger Raheem Sterling should be in their prime in Doha, while midfield starlets Phil Foden (22) and Jude Bellingham (19) will be looking to make their mark at the international level.

While they have Cahill’s backing, he stressed that the likes of Brazil, Fifa’s top-ranked side, with their talismanic attacker Neymar, and a Lionel Messi-led Argentina are among those in the reckoning.

“I think this will be a high-performance, tactical World Cup with a lot of goals and a lot of competitiveness, a lot of upsets,” he said.

Cahill, who retired from international football in 2018 after scoring 50 goals in 108 games for Australia, has been based in Qatar since April 2021, when he became the chief sports officer for its Aspire Academy.

He played in four World Cups and scored his country’s first-ever goal at football’s showpiece event against Japan in 2006, and also notched a memorable volley against the Netherlands in 2014.

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