Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk  and Tim Cahill during a training session. Picture: Dean Lewins
Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk and Tim Cahill during a training session. Picture: Dean Lewins

Slater: Bert is wrong, Timmy Cahill MUST play

How Tim Cahill didn't play in the Socceroos draw against Denmark is a national outrage.

I can't blame Bert van Marwijk personally because he has not had the time to get a handle on the Socceroos.

He simply doesn't understand the belief we have in Cahill to deliver in the biggest moments for our national team.

He wasn't there when Cahill scored two goals against Syria as a 37-year-old in a sudden-death qualifier that kept us on the road to Russia.

He wasn't there when Cahill scored two goals against Japan at Kaiserslautern in 2006.

And he won't be there in two months time when we look back on this campaign and wonder what might have been.

Van Marwijk has surrounded himself with a Dutch entourage that have all the experience in the world but clearly don't have their fingers on the pulse of this proud sporting nation.

A lot of this goes back to Ange Postecoglou's decision to step away just seven months out from this campaign. He's now coaching in Japan, but this is for certain: if Ange was still in charge he would be using Cahill.

Socceroo’s Tim Cahill and young gun Daniel Arzani share a moment after Australia's draw with Denmark. Picture: Toby Zerna
Socceroo’s Tim Cahill and young gun Daniel Arzani share a moment after Australia's draw with Denmark. Picture: Toby Zerna

There have been plenty of Cahill critics arguing that at 38 he isn't up to the job anymore.

That he wasn't getting a run at Melbourne City or Millwall, so how can he be expected to get a run on the grandest stage of them all?

To that I say: never underestimate the heart of a champion.

City coach Warren Joyce was bringing Cahill off the bench in the A-League when Cahill was putting on the green and gold and starring in qualifiers.

Socceroos' head of sports science Craig Duncan said last week that age was "often overrated'' and Cahill was ready to go.

Cahill and Arzani lock horns during a training session on Friday. Picture: Toby Zerna
Cahill and Arzani lock horns during a training session on Friday. Picture: Toby Zerna

His ability to rise to the occasion is unquestioned - he is the greatest we have seen in a Socceroos shirt.

And if there was ever a game tailor made for Timothy Filiga Cahill, it was in Samara on Thursday night.

There was only one team that looked like winning in the second half and we had the greatest match-winner we've produced sitting on the bench biting his fingernails.

Just like we need to forget Cahill's age, we need to put aside the fact that at 19 Daniel Arzani is the youngest player at the World Cup.

He proved again against Denmark that he should be starting.

Harry Kewell made his Socceroos debut at 17, and as a 19-year-old he scored two goals against Iran in that famous qualifying play-off in 1998.

Arzani produced half a dozen flashes of genius in his cameo against Denmark, setting up chances that Cahill could have gobbled up.

The thing I don't get is this would all be understandable if we had fantastic options who were keeping these guys off the pitch.

Cahill, coach Bert van Marwijk and midfielder Mile Jedinak pose for a team photo.  Picture: Saeed Khan
Cahill, coach Bert van Marwijk and midfielder Mile Jedinak pose for a team photo. Picture: Saeed Khan

No disrespect to Tomi Juric but he hardly played in the lead-up, came on against Hungary in the friendly as a sub and was then subbed himself.

Against Denmark he looked to get in the way more than anything.

Then Jackson Irvine comes on and you could feel the collective sigh across the nation.

That was the moment I knew we weren't going to win.

If you put Cahill in do you lose the game? No. The worst result is a draw, the best is another piece of history that we'd never forget. Now we will never now.

The shame is this was one of the best Socceroo performances in a long time.

Robbie Slater says Tim Cahill must play against Peru.
Robbie Slater says Tim Cahill must play against Peru.

So on to Peru.

We're still alive, but Denmark is in a very good position. France and Denmark need only a point each to progress, while Peru is gone.

But don't underestimate the South Americans.

They have had the unluckiest 1-0 losesyou'll ever see, and they're a good little side who won't give up.

They haven't won a World Cup game since 1978 so will be hell-bent to restore some pride on Tuesday night.

My message to van Marjkis is: play Arzani from the start.

And for God's sake, use Cahill. We get why he doesn't start, but USE HIM!



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