Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou has called two goal hero Tim Cahill a freak and says the striker would’ve belted him if he was substituted in last night's World Cup qualifier against Syria.
Inspired by two Cahill goals, the Socceroos beat Syria 2-1 in extra time in front of 42,136 fans at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium last night to secure passage to the play-off against CONCACAF's fourth-based team.
The Syrians looked livelier in the opening exchange and in the 6th minute Mark Milligan gave up possession in midfield that led to a breakaway goal by striker Omar Al Soma.
However, 10 minutes later Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic combined to set up Mathew Leckie whose inch perfect cross from the right wing fell invitingly to Cahill who equalised with a trademark header.
But trying to repeat the feat looked beyond the Australians for most of the 120 minutes as cross after cross into the box aimed at Cahill were wasted.
Finally, Mooy’s sublime chipped pass in the second period of extra time set up Kruse in the box and his cross found Cahill who rose superbly to score.
Speaking post-match Postecoglou lauded Cahill’s scoring prowess.
“He’s a freak,” he said. “I’d hazard to think the last time he played 90 minutes let alone 120 minutes.
“He’s got real belief in himself. He’s just a real unique, extraordinary individual. He led from the front today."
However, five minutes into extra-time it could have been a different story as Tomi Juric replaced Rogic, but Postecoglou said there was no way he was going to substitute Cahill instead.
“Timmy would’ve belted me if I took him off,” he said.
“There was no chance. I told him, ‘to save your energy when it’s needed and that’s when the ball comes in the box.’
“We butchered some of our crosses. It doesn’t even have to be perfect, just get in the area where he is and you’ve already seen what happens, he’s unbelievable, he’s a freak.”
Cahill’s two goals took his tally for the Socceroos to 50 and the 37-year-old said last night’s effort was just business as usual.
“It’s what I do,” he said. “My belief is strong that when I put on the jersey I believe I will always score when I play for the national team.
“I’m really happy for the manager more than anything. I’m more than happy for the group of players and for me it’s great, it’s a great mile stone.
“But the team performance is always the first thing that I focus on and also the win and how much it means to our country.
“We deserve this win to now have a chance of qualifying for a fourth consecutive World Cup.”
Cahill denied scoring the two goals meant more after he had been left out of a number of the recent Socceroos World Cup qualifiers.
“No, I’m chilled,” he said
“I’m not it for myself. If I started off the bench tonight it wouldn’t have bothered me. If I come off, it is what it is.
“That’s what we need to get over as players. There are 23 selected for two different games for the tactics and for what the boss believes in. We sincerely believe in him and tonight it came late but we got our rewards.”