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Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop has rejected suggestions Tim Cahill’s selection in Australia’s trimmed World Cup squad had been influenced by commercial factors.
The 38-year-old talisman was unveiled as the centre of a marketing campaign by the Socceroos’ primary sponsor Caltex, before the ink was even dry on Bert van Marwijk’s trimmed group of 26.
The opportunistic timing of the ‘Cahilltex’ campaign, whereby a number of petrol stations have been renamed in honour of the country’s leading goalscorer to coincide with the Russia tournament, triggered questions about the fairness of Cahill’s call-up.
While a long-time regular, his selection courted some controversy given his lack of game time since moving to Millwall – 63 minutes over 10 games – and the concurrent omission of in-form Hibernian striker Jamie Maclaren.
But van Marwijk had already made clear his intentions for Cahill and last week called him “a special case” given his proven ability to change a game.
And Gallop moved quickly on Tuesday to hose down talk commercial incentives had played any part.
“I say ‘have a look at Tim Cahill’s track record’,” Gallop said.
“He’s a guy who has just produced for Australian football, for the Socceroos, so many times. He did it against Syria.
“So I don’t think anyone can mock the fact that he is in the 26.”
If Cahill makes the cut for a fourth World Cup, his role is likely to be restricted to a pinch hitter off the bench, given his world-class aerial ability in the box, as well as a leader off the field.
He said he was proud to be selected and would “leave no stone unturned” during a training camp in Turkey to make the final squad of 23 on June 3.