IF TIM CAHILL didn’t exist, Australia would have to invent him. Rarely has a player become such a key component of a team. It seems if Cahill doesn’t score, Australia often don’t.When the Socceroos need someone to drag them out of a difficult spot, up pops the Everton man to do what he does with unerring regularity for club and country – hit the back of the net, as he did on Wednesday night with the only goal in the 1-0 triumph over Oman.For coach Pim Verbeek, Cahill is not just a luxury, he is a necessity. The Sydneysider did not play in Australia’s last match before their double-header against Holland and Oman, a friendly defeat against South Korea, when the Socceroos’ consolation goal was scored by defender Patrick Kisnorbo.But it was Cahill who did the damage against Ireland in Limerick in August, bagging a brace as the Socceroos won 3-0. He also got both goals on a far more important stage in June, when he netted twice in Australia’s 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over Japan, a nation for whom he has been heartbreaker-in-chief.No Australian fan can forget the day in Kaiserslautern in the Socceroos’ World Cup opener against Japan in June 2006, when Cahill came off the bench to rescue Guus Hiddink’s men late in the game with an equaliser and then an 89th-minute strike that put Australia 2-1 up against the then-Asian champions.He also rescued Australia the last time they played Oman in Bangkok in the Asian Cup finals, once more rising from the pine to snare a last-gasp leveller that kept his country in the tournament.Verbeek will doubtless spend the next eight months nervously checking the injury bulletins and praying that no misfortune will befall his key man. He could be forgiven for placing him in a glass jar and only allowing David Moyes, his club boss, to open it in emergencies.Verbeek was asked what he would do without Cahill. ”Pick another striker and hope and pray that he can do the same, but probably he can’t because Timmy is special, of course, that’s what we all know,” he said.”Sometimes he is invisible on the field, but this was a great goal, it was not an easy goal, of course. I saw it on the replay, he is so alert on goals like that. A lot of players were probably not expecting that ball any more but he is always there on the right moment. It’s not the first time in his career. For us it’s always important.”Meanwhile, Verbeek has added his voice in support of his Oman counterpart Claude Le Roy and urged the Asian Football Confederation to bring its showpiece tournament into line with other major football competitions around the world.Le Roy this week lamented the fact that only two of his adopted country’s Asian Cup qualifiers were on FIFA-designated match days, and on both occasions the tiny Sultanate from the Persian Gulf had to face Australia.The fact that these games were scheduled on FIFA dates meant Verbeek was able to field his strongest possible team – as he did in Wednesday night’s 1-0 win – because European clubs were forced to release them well ahead of the match.On non-FIFA dates clubs can hold on to players until 48 hours before the international, and in many cases try to dissuade players from leaving at all.It was Oman’s misfortune to get Australia on those two dates, October 14 and November 14. But it is also a problem for Verbeek, because he had to field second-tier teams for the first two matches – a home loss to Kuwait and a draw in Jakarta – and will probably have to rely on A-League players to do the job away to Kuwait in January and at home to Indonesia in March.”I think it’s ridiculous of course, if you play Asian Cup qualification you want the best teams in Asia in the Asian Cup,” Verbeek said. ”Oman is a little bit unlucky that we play them twice with our best possible selection.”I think it’s not good and Asian Cup [qualifiers] should be played on FIFA dates so you can bring in the best players available.”And the FFA has defended the cost of tickets for Wednesday night’s Asian Cup qualifier, despite only 20,595 watching a near-full-strength Socceroos. While ticket pricing will feature in the FFA’s review of the game, chief commercial officer John O’Sullivan said yesterday the pricing structure – which started at $45 for adults – was considered appropriate.”If it had been a friendly against Oman that criticism is justified [but] it was a qualification match,” he said.
Nanjing Night Net

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