Socceroos great Tim Cahill says national coach Graham Arnold can ill afford to select any “passengers” in Australia’s squad for this year’s World Cup.
A member of the Socceroos squad for the previous four World Cups, Cahill said he would enjoy being a “fan” at the November 21-December 18 tournament in Qatar, where he is based as Aspire Academy’s chief sports officer.
The 42-year-old former Everton star addressed the Socceroos squad in June at the World Cup playoffs – also in Qatar – where the Australians beat firstly United Arab Emirates and then Peru via a dramatic penalty shootout to qualify.
“It was nice to see the lads and be invited into camp,” Cahill said on Tuesday in Brisbane, where in his role as a company investor he unveiled the first BYD Atto 3 right-hand drive electric vehicle in Australia.
“It was a nice experience for me because working in Qatar and across many federations in football, and also the academy, my education has evolved a lot since retiring and also my experience.
“Whatever I added was to help Australia in any way I could to qualify for the biggest show on earth.”
Reluctant to compare the Socceroos squad to those of the past, Cahill urged Arnold team’s to forget about its rocky qualifying road and instead seize the moment.
“A lot of what I said to them was not worrying about what happened yesterday,” he said.
“It was about them being fortunate enough, regardless of the journey and how up and down it was, to be there and about concentrating on today and tomorrow and how they could affect their efficiency and output daily from now until the last kick of the ball.
“I was very clear on my feelings because it’s now a time that you can’t take any passengers at the 11th hour.
“Football’s down to the investment that you put it into it and the academic side of it. I talk facts and I talk what I know.”
Despite claiming to be “neutral”, Cahill wants the Socceroos to perform well in Qatar because it would “put to rest whatever happened before”.
“I’ve laid the jersey down, and it’s not for me to compare who’s the best and who did better – I’m actually disconnected from them,” he said.
“(But) I’ve helped Australia and I’m constantly helping Australia.
“(Football Australia chief executive) James Johnson and Graham Arnold now exactly the effect I have on the country when needed.
“We’ve qualified now, so we don’t need to worry about drawing or losing to teams, it’s about whether or not the team can prepare this time to compete against (Group D rivals) France, Denmark and Tunisia.”