Sydney (AFP) – Veteran Tim Cahill was included Monday in Bert van Marwijk’s preliminary Australia squad for the World Cup, keeping him on track for a fourth appearance at the football showpiece.
The 38-year-old is his country’s most prolific international scorer with 50 goals, hitting the back of the net at three previous World Cups.
But he has only been a bit player for Millwall since returning to south London in January, and is currently banned for three matches.
Despite this Van Marwijk, who was appointed in January following the sudden departure of Ange Postecoglou, knows his experience and talisman-like status among Australian fans could make a difference, describing him as “a special case”.
“I have had long conversations with Tim and he is a special case, he is special in everything,” he said.
“He is 38, he is maybe one of the best players ever for Australia, he is a very good striker, (but) he doesn’t play much and also has a problem that he’s suspended for three games.
“I have to take a decision on whether to take him to the world championships. He is not 19, but he is a player who can make a difference and a player who will not be nervous in front of 80,000 people.”
The Dutchman named a 32-man squad, which will need to be cut to 23 by June 3, with highly-rated teenage striker Daniel Arzani included for the first time.
Arzani is also eligible to play for Iran, but appears to be locking in his international future with Australia.
Fran Karacic, who plays in Croatia, also got the nod in a line-up that included all the players from the Dutchman’s first squad since taking over, who played two friendlies in March.
“I am not a person who changes all the time and we thought for a long time about the first squad that we selected,” said Van Marwijk.
“I had a good experience with the 26 players in the 10 days that I worked with them, so I had no reason not to nominate them again.
“But we have since seen other players so there will be a few new names in the squad.”
As well as Arzani and Karacic, Alex Gersbach, Apostolos Giannou, Mitchell Langerak, and Jamie Maclaren were included.
Australia assemble in Turkey for the start of their pre-tournament training camp from May 19.
Australia provisional World Cup squad (to be cut to final 23 by June 3): Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City/AUS), Aziz Behich (Bursaspor/TUR), Joshua Brillante (Sydney FC/AUS), Tim Cahill (Millwall/ENG), Milos Degenek (Yokohama Marinos/JPN), Alex Gersbach (Racing Club de Lens/FRA), Apostolos Giannou (AEK Larnaca/CYP), Jackson Irvine (Hull City/ENG), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa/ENG), Brad Jones (Feyenoord/NED), Tomi Juric (FC Luzern/SWI), Matthew Jurman (Suwon Bluewings/KOR), Fran Karacic (NK Lokomotiva/CRO), Robbie Kruse (VfL Bochum/GER), Mitchell Langerak (Nagoya Grampus/JPN), Mathew Leckie (Hertha BSC/GER), Massimo Luongo (Queens Park Rangers/ENG), Jamie Maclaren (Hibernian/SCO), James Meredith (Millwall/ENG), Mark Milligan (Al Ahli/KSA), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town/ENG), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds/JPN), Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets/AUS), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney Wanderers/AUS), Tom Rogic (Celtic/SCO), Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa/ISR), Mathew Ryan (Brighton/ENG), Trent Sainsbury (Grasshopper Club Zurich/SWI), Aleksandar Susnjar (FK Mlada Boleslav/CZE), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory/AUS), Daniel Vukovic (Genk/BEL), Bailey Wright (Bristol City/ENG).