Football

Veteran Cahill ready as ever for country's call

          GROUP B  (ASIA)
IRAQ AUSTRALIA

Australia's Tim Cahill believes his appetite for playing football is as strong as ever and he is ready to drive his country to a fourth successive World Cup Finals.

Cahill scored the majority of his country's goals at the last three World Cups and is back in the Socceroos squad for their crunch qualifier against Iraq in Teheran today.

The 37-year-old became a cult hero at English clubs Everton and Millwall in the first decade of the century because of his goal-scoring prowess and extraordinary commitment.

After stints in the United States and China, Cahill is now back home playing for Melbourne City and said his love for the game remains undimmed in his 20th year as a professional.

"My passion outweighs anyone's, in my opinion," he told Sydney's Daily Telegraph in Iran, where the qualifier is being held because of safety concerns in Iraq.

"I've had a great career but I also have a contract for next season to win trophies.

"I feel like I've ticked some boxes but I also feel there's a lot to fulfil. I don't see myself as a player who wants to finish any time soon."

His lack of game time at Melbourne City means Cahill is unlikely to start against the former Asian champions in the Iranian capital, but it would be a surprise if he did not come off the bench at some stage.

Cahill's tally of 48 goals in 94 matches starkly illustrate his value to the team but he always had the knack of scoring at key moments for his country.

After three straight draws, Ange Postecoglou's side will be desperate for a win to keep pace with Saudi Arabia and Japan at the top of Group B.

Only one point separates the top four and only the top two sides are guaranteed trips to Russia. - REUTERS


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