Fifa World Cup 2014

Shrug off the jitters and be fearless against Chile, Tim Cahill says

Veteran encourages fresh faces in Australia line-up to make most of their clash with seasoned South Americans

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 9:22pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 June, 2014, 10:00am

Australia veteran Tim Cahill told his young, untested teammates to cast aside any lingering pre-World Cup jitters and go out and enjoy the experience of locking horns with Chile in their World Cup opener.

The former Everton star believes that only by leaving their nerves behind in the dressing room can the Socceroos have a shot at claiming what would be one almighty group B scalp.

"You've got to be fearless, that way things happen in games," his country's all-time top scorer said.

Don't miss out on this opportunity, don't be a passenger, enjoy the game ... believe in ourselves, in our tactics and the way we play
Tim Cahill

"In 2006, I scored two goals in the World Cup [against Japan], I was fearless ... hopefully it'll be the same for some of these lads."

Under new coach Ange Postecoglou, Australia have undergone a major rejuvenation, with Cahill one of the last survivors of the Aussies' "golden generation" including Harry Kewell, Mark Schwarzer and Mark Viduka.

At 34, and winding down his career at the New York Red Bulls, age is not on Cahill's side, and he is anxious to leave this exalted stage on a high.

"My only message would be to them - don't miss out on this opportunity, don't be a passenger, enjoy the game, believe in what we've learned in the last six months, believe in ourselves, in our tactics and the way we play.

"The belief is high, but at the same time our quality is high too."

Cahill, who went from the highs of Germany in 2006 to the depths of 2010 when he was red-carded in the first game, said it would be dangerous to regard Chile as a team solely based around world-class duo Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez.

"We're focusing on others, two players don't make up a team and Chile has a lot of great players," said Cahill.

"But Sanchez, he plays for one of the biggest teams in the world, he's an exceptional player who loves to come to the ball and get involved in play, but at the same time he gets involved in goals.

"I admire him as a footballer, he can win games from the smallest situations."

Cahill's great strength is his heading ability, remarkable in that he is just 1.78 metres tall.

As such, he took issue with the perception that a team like Chile presented less of an aerial threat owing to their size.

We're focusing on others, two players don't make up a team and Chile has a lot of great players
Tim Cahill

"It's a danger for teams if they underestimate this, like England [beaten 2-0 at Wembley last year] and Germany - you don't have to be big to jump," he said.

The two group B protagonists are worlds apart in Fifa's rankings - Chile are 14 with Australia down at 62 - so the South Americans are heavy favourites.

But Australia are not short of self-belief against a team they held to a goalless draw on their World Cup debut in 1974.

"We don't care who we're up against," said Swiss-based midfielder Dario Vidosic. "There can be 11 Ronaldos or Messis out there. We want to make everybody proud back home. We've worked very hard to get to this stage.

"We've got three guaranteed games and we're just going to give it everything that we can to get out of the group stage."

The Aussies laid down a marker of their intent in a battling single-goal defeat by fellow finalists Croatia in their last warm-up.

Alex Wilkinson, who played a part against Croatia, said Chile could be in for a surprise.

"They're expecting us to be physical and we will be physical - but we also want to show them we can play football as well," said the Jeonbuk Motors player.

Chile, coached by Argentine Jorge Sampaoli, are buoyed by the apparent recovery from injury of Vidal. The Juventus man underwent knee surgery last month and was in doubt.

But he appeared to have shrugged off that problem when turning out for a training session on Wednesday, his first activity since the 2-0 friendly victory over Northern Ireland.

Like Vidal, another vital component of Chile's team is Barcelona forward Sanchez, reportedly a target of Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal who is in Brazil as Holland manager.