Socceroos legend’s tip for domestic World Cup hopefuls

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Tim Cahill has warned Australia’s World Cup wannabes not even a double hat-trick against New Zealand may be enough to book a ticket to Qatar.

The Australian soccer great will be in Brisbane for Thursday’s game against New Zealand, the Socceroos’ last on home soil before the World Cup begins in November.

But he told AAP what happens after that will determine selections, tipping data to trump emotion.

Coach Graham Arnold has welcomed back former mentor Guus Hiddink in a guest role as assistant and spread his net wide, including 31 in a squad that will be reduced by about 10 for the return leg in Auckland on Sunday.

Cameron Devlin, Jason Cummings, Ryan Strain, Harrison Delbridge, Tyrese Francois, Keanu Baccus and 18-year-old Garang Kuol are all poised for debuts.

But many of the side that beat Peru to qualify haven’t been selected, while the likes of Tom Rogic and even Daniel Arzani, plucked as a 19-year-old for Russia 2018, loom outside the squad altogether as legitimate options.

Doha-based Cahill is now engrossed in the academic and executive elements of the game in his role as the chief sports officer for the Aspire Academy.

He says he’ll have a peripheral role with the Socceroos in Qatar that’s yet to be finalised.

“Garang (Kuol) could be the X-factor like Arzani was in Russia, but you have to build (the team) from the back and I don’t know what Arnie’s thinking and that’s the beauty of coaching,” Cahill told AAP on Wednesday.

“To score a double hat-trick here isn’t going to be the be-all and end-all. It’ll be the consistency. With two months to go it’s a slow burn, not a quick golden ticket.”

A-League players are yet to begin their season, a factor counting against them given Arnold’s expectation his final squad will be “in the form of their life … and as light (fit) as they’ve ever been”.

Cahill negotiated similar issues to play at a fourth World Cup, unused for weeks by Melbourne City after scoring twice against Syria to move into the final qualification stage for Russia.

“I was asking the manager to organise reserve games, do extra running … I looked outside the box and played for Millwall,” he said.

“I was on the front foot and low and behold it worked.

“The new football world is numbers and high performance.

“It’ll come down to a collation of data and it shouldn’t be emotional; nothing should be emotional with football because it’s not a game that’s forgiving.”


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