Tim Cahill must play against Honduras, end of discussion

David Lord Columnist

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    Socceroos icon Tim Cahill made a stunning comment yesterday – “If I had played in Honduras, I would have contributed”.

    Cahill had rolled his ankle days before playing for Melbourne City when he tried to hurdle Sydney FC defender Jordy Buijs.

    Cahill was given no chance of playing the first leg of the last chance two-game play-off to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Russia next year.

    But to think the 37-year-young Cahill, the best-performed Socceroo and the team’s most inspirational footballer could have been used, but wasn’t, is yet another strange decision by coach Ange Postecoglou.

    Even stranger when the Socceroos’ most successful goal-scorer with 50, well clear of the next best Damon Mori with 28, may well have scored – with every goal on the away leg all the more important thanks to the away goal rule. If scores are tied after tomorrow night, the team with more away goals goes through.

    After a nil-all draw, any goal would have been priceless.

    So Postecoglou has no option tomorrow night, Tim Cahill must start against Honduras – the Socceroos’ moment of truth has arrived.

    If Postecoglou fails to start Cahill, the coach is as good as out the exit door.

    Let’s face it, tomorrow night is the most important sporting event on the Australian calendar this week, by the length of the straight.

    Tim Cahill

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    A galaxy of Australia’s best in other sports have been appearing on television wishing the team well, headed by Cooper Cronk, Steve Smith, Ellysee Perry, Craig Lowndes, and Michael Hooper.

    Let’s face it, the return Honduras clash is so important to the well-being of the round ball code in Australia.

    If they qualify for Russia, the FFA and Socceroos will earn $2 million, and even if they are eliminated after the Group stage, there’s another $10 million.

    If they lose in the quarters it’s worth $18 million. To finish fourth, $25 million, and to go all the way to becoming world champions they will collect a $50-million cheque.

    Nobody expects the Socceroos will go that far, but to even qualify for their fourth consecutive World Cup appearance will do wonders for the code in Australia.

    But to miss out will be damaging.

    Putting my cards on the table, I’m no fan of the Socceroos for playing boring football, with the exception of Tim Cahill.

    They should have qualified in regulation as the highest ranked country – Socceroos 43, Japan 44, Saudi Arabia 63, UAE 72, Iraq 80, and Thailand 138.

    Had the played to their standing, they would have avoided these tense play-off series,even though Syria’s ranked 77, and Honduras 69.

    But they didn’t play to their ranking, so both the players, and the coach, must share that mistake and that responsibility.

    Tim Cahill sad

    (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

    Tomorrow night they have their last chance to make amends by making passes count, and being positive.

    The latter is vital, and that’s where Tim Cahill means so much to the side.

    A Cahill header from an Aron Mooy cross will bring the house down, the roar will be heard all over Sydney.

    But while the attack is vital, the Socceroos’ defence must be Fort Knox-like – if Honduras score, Australia will need to win. No questions asked. A scoring draw sees Australia knocked out on the away goals rule.

    The clash will be the first of three this week, with the defending champion Kangaroos meeting Samoa in Darwin in a Rugby League World Cup quarter final, and the Wallabies will be at the home of rugby desperate to end a four-game losing streak to England.

    But tomorrow night is huge with the nation right behind you Socceroos, so lift your game and attitude to make us proud.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles