Tim Cahill stars for the beaten side who are left ruing as a slow start
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou may have packed his team with World Cup debutants but it was the timeless virtues of a grizzled Socceroo veteran that he was extolling after defeat to Chile on Friday.
The player in question, Tim Cahill, went mighty close to giving the heavily-fancied Chileans the fright of their lives in this Group B encounter in Cuiaba.
The 34-year-old’s part in helping turn around a side that was heading for a cricket-score drubbing after Chile scored two early goals was immense.
Cahill’s calling card is his head, and he duly knocked in a gem in the 35th minute, outjumping Cardiff City’s Gary Medel to put Australia bang back in a game most thought had slipped from their grasp.
That was Cahill’s fourth World Cup goal, and he thought he had a fifth only for his second half effort to be disallowed for offside.
Postecoglou oozed pride when asked at the press conference after the 3-1 loss about the former Everton striker’s contribution under the Arena Pantanal stadium’s floodlights.
“Tim was outstanding, particularly in the air he’s still world class.
“There’s not a player around who’d like to go 1-on-1 with him in the air.”
“He’s certainly a weapon of ours, but you have to be able to use it.”
Cahill, who with fellow ‘old-timer’ Mark Bresciano became the first Australian to compete at three World Cups, now has a remarkable bragging right over not only Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, but also Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo.
For his four goal tally means he has scored more World Cup goals than both of these giants of the game combined.
“That’s how we wanted to play, get balls high in the box,” he said.
“When I get the ball in such a way most of time it’s a goal. The goal was a kick start.”
The Australian talisman conceded the team had offered Chile too much respect in the first quarter of an hour.
“But then we noticed that we were at the same strengths so it’s a little bit frustrating because it all went very well, we missed just some small things.”
Australia were blown away by Chile in the opening fifteen minutes, but down two goals they managed to turn things around, and even have Chile on the run for a period.
“We had a mountain to climb, it was disappointing to give two early goals away as we had real belief we could get something out of this game,” said Postecoglou.
“But the players clawed their way back into it.
“Aussies don’t give up, and I thought we controlled the second half.
“The mood in the dressing room was disappointment, the players sensed the game was there for them.
“Credit to chile, they’ve got some world class players. We expected them to start very strongly. It took us awhile to settle down.
“It would’ve been easy for us to give up, but we didn’t.”
He added: “But it is what it is, now we must prepare for another tough game in five days time.”
Australia’s second run out in Brazil is against a Holland team that swept aside world champions Spain 5-1 in Salvador earlier Friday.
“The Dutch will be looking to take three points off us to put them through, this is an opportunity for us to upset that,” said the Australia boss.
“We saw with the Spanish, it doesn’t take much, one or two moments maybe, to make a difference.”