Sydney (AFP) – Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk is under growing pressure to play veteran Tim Cahill in their must-win World Cup match against Peru, with fans demanding to know why the country’s top goal poacher has been ignored so far.
The 38-year-old has scored 50 times for Australia in 105 games and many expected him to be used as a super-sub in Russia.
But despite his experience and proven abilities he has done little more than warm the bench during their opening two games — a 2-1 loss to France and 1-1 draw with Denmark.
Australia’s only two goals so far have come from penalties, with a flurry of chances going begging.
“Australia’s 1-all draw with Denmark left Socceroos fans asking just one question. Why is Tim Cahill at the World Cup?” the Sydney Daily Telegraph said.
“Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk continues to inexplicably snub Australia’s greatest ever player and goal scorer.”
The Australian newspaper took a similar tack, saying the “drums were beating” for Cahill to start alongside exciting young gun Daniel Arzani, who came on as a substitute against the Danes.
One of Australia’s most experienced Socceroos, Mark Bosnich asked the same question immediately after the Denmark game.
“Arzani should have been in earlier, and questions must be asked of the manager as to why Tim Cahill was not used with 10-15 mins to go,” Bosnich tweeted.
The Socceroos must beat Peru next week and hope Denmark lose to France with enough of a goal swing to lift them above the Danes, who currently have three more points and a two-goal margin.
Australian sporting stars joined the chorus for Cahill to be given the chance to once again come to his country’s rescue.
Cricketer Brett Lee tweeted “It’s Time for @Tim_Cahill” while rugby league international Jarryd Hayne echoed the sentiment, saying “Time for Tim.”
Former Wallaby Lote Tuqiri added: “Does this Socceroos coach know what @Tim_Cahill looks like?”
Fans also unloaded on social media at van Marwijk’s decision to not play Cahill.
“Coach Bertie Beetle has done wonders getting this squad into such competitive and tactical shape. But it beggars belief he didn’t roll the dice with @Tim_Cahill with 15 to go IMHO,” Adam Spencer said on Twitter.
User Jordy added: “I want Tim Cahill to come on, score and punch up the corner flag. Like the old days.”
Cahill’s lack of match fitness could be the problem — he moved to Millwall earlier this year to get match time, but only made cameo appearances.
If he does play and score, he will join a select few to have found the back of the net at four World Cups, alongside luminaries such as Pele.