Verbeek set to strike with Cahill
Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek is set to unleash 2006 World Cup hero Tim Cahill on Japan in a lone striker’s role in tonight's World Cup qualifying match at Yokohama International Stadium.
Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek is set to unleash 2006 World Cup hero Tim Cahill on Japan in a lone striker-s role in Wednesday night-s World Cup qualifying match at Yokohama International Stadium.
Cahill, who came on and scored two goals in the famous 3-1 win in Kaiserslautern in 2006, is likely to be given a new role by Verbeek, as Australia-s looks to maintain its unbeaten run in the fourth round of qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup finals to be held in South Africa.
The midfielder-s ability in the air and strong, physical presence is sure to cause the Japanese defence some major headaches. His 14 goals in 30 internationals is the record of a striker and Japan are only two familiar with his ability to find the back of the net.
Cahill himself is not fazed by the prospect, as he has been deployed in a similar role with some success by his club Everton for the past few months, due to their injury crisis.
“I am up for it, definitely,” Cahill told the media in Yokohama. “I've played about 10 to 12 games as a striker (for Everton).
“As a professional footballer you've got to adapt and I feel like I've adapted.
“I've got an eye in front of goal and I feel I can keep that going.”
Injuries have hampered Verbeek-s preparations for the match and a late scare didn-t ease his worries, with Vince Grella, who was set to partner Carl Valeri, as two-man screen in front of the defence, limping off from the teams final training session.
It remains to be seen whether Grella will take his place, given his recent run with injuries, although team officials said it was more precautionary.
With Jason Culina likely to be deployed on the right of midfield in place of the injured Brett Emerton, the only other major concern was the left full back position, with Scott Chipperfield seemingly coming through a torrid session and is likely to start.
Verbeek also singled out praise for goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and has been pivotal during these final phase of qualifiers over the past 12 months.
Schwarzer has been in excellent form for Fulham Athletic and has kept 9 clean sheets in 23 games and helped push the club into the top of the Premier League.
If he can keep a clean sheet against Japan, he will hold the record outright for the most clean sheets by a Socceroo keeper with 25 next to his name. He currently sits level with long time rival Zeljko Kalac.
“He's a fantastic goalkeeper, a great professional and so far in this campaign, he didn't give away one goal against,'' Verbeek said.
“That says enough about his qualities. He is just a fantastic player for our team.''
Verbeek also didn-t let up in the psychological battle, claiming that all the pressure is on Japan and that a loss would put them under enormous pressure for the remainder of the qualifiers.
Japan sits two points behind Australia on the table and a win for Verbeek-s team would push them five clear of their nearest rival and just one step closer to qualifying for the 2010 finals.
"They have to win while we would like to win and that's a big difference," Verbeek said at the teams final training session.
"We have three home games to come and I think we need six more points to qualify, so clearly the pressure is not on our shoulders but on Japan's.
“They still have to play Uzbekistan away, which won't be easy.
"All the biggest players in the world find it difficult to play under pressure. Having no pressure will make life a little bit easier for us so we shall see tomorrow how the pressure will affect Japan."
The Dutchmen said his team was very excited to be here in Japan and especially to play in the venue for the 2002 World Cup final, dismissing suggestions the players might not perform in front of packed Japanese crowd.
"The players are looking forward to the game and are all very happy to be here," he said.
"They're all fit and all ready and they're all really excited to be playing in front of 74,000 fantastic football fans.
“They will not be stressed and will show they are a good team.”