Socceroos pick Cahill amidst controversy

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Tim Cahill

Sydney, May 15: Controversy marred Socceroos' selection for 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia after the Football Federation Australia (FFA) chiefs were forced to deny that veteran Tim Cahill was in the country's squad for purely commercial reasons.

The 38-year-old, who is the Socceroos' most prolific scorer with 50 goals, hitting the net at three previous World Cups was picked ahead of in-form Hibernian striker Jamie Maclaren.

And the announcement came as Cahill was unveiled as the face of the Socceroos' key sponsor Caltex's new advertising campaign.

It will see five of the company's petrol stations in major cities rebadged Cahilltex throughout May and June, featuring large pictures of Australia's best-known player.

FFA chief David Gallop denied there was any commercial rationale behind Cahill seemingly certain to play a fourth World Cup.

"Absolutely not," he told reporters at a Caltex promotional event. "Have a look at Tim Cahill's track record. He's a guy who has produced for the Socceroos and Australia so many times.

"He's going to Turkey, he's got a few weeks of intense training and he'll be right up there (for final selection)."

Speaking to News Corp Australia ahead of the announcement, Cahill denied age and lack of playing time would hinder him in Russia.

"I've fought every barrier, every single week of my life as a footballer. Mentally I've not been fazed. Physically, I'm in great shape," he said.

"I'm looking forward to Bert (van Marwijk) looking for someone and if he looks on the bench or wants to start me, as a leader, that he knows he can count on."

Though Cahill's record speaks for itself, he has only been a bit player for Millwall since returning to south London in January.

Despite this, he made the cut as coach Bert van Marwijk trimmed his squad to 26 players from 32, with Maclaren's omission the most controversial, having scored a hat-trick at the weekend for Hibs in their 5-5 draw with Rangers.

It leaves Cahill and Swiss-based Tomi Juric as the two recognised strikers in the squad, although the highly-rated and uncapped Daniel Arzani kept his place.

As well as Maclaren, Bristol City skipper Bailey Wright was cut along with long-term back-up goalkeeper Mitch Langerak, Alex Gersbach, Apostolos Giannou, and Aleksandar Susnjar.

"It's always a challenging task to reduce a squad, however this is the nature of professional sport at the highest level," said van Marwijk.

"I'm sure that in training in Antalya, and in our match against the Czech Republic, we'll see players pushing to go to a higher level as they compete for a place in the final squad," he added.

The Socceroos link up for a training camp in Antalya on Sunday (May 20) ahead of a clash with the Czech Republic in St Polten, Austria, on June 1, with the final squad of 23 announced two days later.

They then face Hungary in a warm-up match in Budapest on June 9 before heading to Russia.

In Russia, they are drawn in Group C along with France, Peru and Denmark.

The Socceroos begin their campaign on June 16 against former world champions France.

Squad: Brad Jones, Mat Ryan, Danny Vukovic; Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Matthew Jurman, Fran Karacic, James Meredith, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury; Josh Brillante, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, Robbie Kruse, Massimo Luongo, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, James Troisi; Daniel Arzani, Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, Mathew Leckie, Andrew Nabbout, Dimitri Petratos, Nikita Rukavytsya

(With Agency inputs).

    Story first published: Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 13:12 [IST]
    Other articles published on May 15, 2018
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