Tim Cahill praised Graham Arnold’s ‘masterstroke’ during the extra time of Australia’s penalty shootout win over Peru in the FIFA World Cup inter-confederation play-off final on Monday.
Arnold brought on Andrew Redmayne for the experienced Mat Ryan ahead of the shootout and the substitute vindicated the move with two big saves to seal the Aussies' berth in the World Cup.
Cahill, who featured in four World Cups, said, “In the final hurdle, it was a masterstroke from the coach to put in Redmayne and to create a historic moment for Australia and himself.”
It was a surprise call by Arnold by replacing his skipper with a second choice ‘keeper, who has just two senior appearances against his name. On the decision, Cahill said, “There have been moments throughout my journey, whether it’s sitting on the bench and being told the morning of the game that you are not starting a game against Japan, it’s not about the individual. I was able to speak to Matty (Ryan) about how everyone can give something and that it’s not about an individual. This was a bit of a surprise. Whether or not, it was premeditated, it was the right decision. Matty would have played a couple of penalties anyway but in this instance it was Redmayne and it was a masterstroke of a tactic.”
In the lead-up to the game, Arnold’s men weren’t considered the favourites against their South American opponents. The former Socceroos skipper is relieved that he can now follow his team as a fan at the World Cup in November. “I think we deserved it, overall both technically and tactically over 120 minutes. It has been a tough World Cup qualifying campaign. When we look at the run-in, we can dismiss it [Australia’s chances] straight away, We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to play the two games against the UAE and last night against Peru. That’s the beauty of football, you get another opportunity to do something special for the country but the game isn’t nice to both countries.”
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will see six teams from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) – the most in its history. Cahill, who has five World Cup goals, has backed the Asian teams to lead the way for future generations.
“The game has changed in levels. Australia is now ranked fifth or sixth in Asia, they are not dominating like in the past. Whereas countries like Japan and South Korea are the leaders to dictate that now and countries like Qatar to follow. The six nations have a chance to basically produce upsets. So embrace it and enjoy it. In the last World Cup, Japan was exceptional and 2006 was exceptional for Australia. There’s going to be moments where two of these six nations will hopefully produce something special and fly the flag on behalf of Asia,” he said.
The former Everton and Jamshedpur FC footballer picked South Korea’s Heung min-Son as the Asian player to shine followed by Japan’s Takumi Minamino and Australia’s Ajdin Hrustic. Cahill is closely working with the local organising committee for the World Cup in Qatar and is also the Chief Sports Officer of Aspire Academy.
“Akram Afif from Qatar is another pick. I can see him cutting in and scoring and getting a few assists,” he added.
(The writer is in Qatar at the invitation of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy)
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