Socceroos need Cahill ‘fear factor’, says great Dane

Australia’s best chance of staying alive at the 2018 FIFA World Cup is to roll the dice and unleash Tim Cahill, according to former Denmark striker Mikkel Beck.

Tim Cahill

Source: Getty Images

The one-time Middlesbrough marksman believes the veteran striker carries a “fear factor” which should be utilized to the full in Australia’s do-or-die clash with Denmark in Samara on Thursday night (AEST).

Despite a total of just 95 minutes of competitive football in six months - 65 for Millwall and 30 for Australia - Beck insisted that Cahill could provide the finishing power desperately needed by the Socceroos.

Indications are that coach Bert van Marwijk may be inclined to field the same side against Denmark that he did in the 2-1 opening match loss to France in Kazan.

But with goals - or at least one - the imperative against the Danes, Beck sees Cahill as a saviour in waiting.

“Everyone knows he’s scored at three World Cups, so why not a fourth,” said Beck, who netted three times in 19 appearances for Danish Dynamite before his retirement in 2002.

Now a player agent, his clients include Socceroos keepers Mat Ryan and Danny Vukovic, plus Denmark captain Simon Kjaer, giving him a foot in both camps.

“With the situation as it is, I’d be tempted to play Cahill from the start and give him an hour to make something happen,” he said.

“He has this fear factor about him and I’m sure if he plays any team at this World Cup they would take him very seriously.

“I know Denmark would certainly not relish the prospect of defending against him.”

Australia’s all-time top scorer might be 38 but his fitness has impressed teammates in Russia and after being left on the bench against Les Bleus, he’s straining at the leash to try and dig Australia out of a hole.

“I think he can be a very interesting choice for Australia,” added Beck.

“He’s not played much club football this year but he’s very experienced and I hear from within the camp that he’s also in very good condition and has looked sharp in training.”

Van Marwijk needs to find something extra from his side against a Danish team sitting pretty after their somewhat fortuitous 1-0 opening win over Peru.

Andrew Nabbout, his top choice in four games since taking charge, abounds with energy and endeavour.

But with one goal and precious few touches in what has become a thankless role, doubts persist over whether he can truly trouble the Danes.

The nominal next attacking choice, Tomi Juric, is still searching for cohesion and sharpness after recent knee niggles.

He, though, at least provides a point of difference from the raw and direct Nabbout with his height and ability to hold the ball up.

Jamie Maclaren, van Marwijk’s fourth option, has been tucking away the chances in training but doesn’t appear to be high enough up the Dutchman’s pecking order.

All of which begs the question, is van Marwijk prepared to take a punt on a player he’s always described as “a special case”?

“The difference between (former coach) Ange (Postecoglou) and van Marwijk is that he doesn’t put as much emphasis on getting at the opponents and really giving it a go,” said Beck.

“It’s a very defensive set up but that will have to change against Denmark because the onus is on Australia to try and win the match against a team that already has the luxury of three points.

“Denmark were lucky to beat Peru, but they’re unbeaten in 16, so they have a lot of momentum.

“They are really high on confidence and will be difficult to beat. I see it as a close game with no clear favourite.

“I don’t see too many goals either. It could even be a draw.”

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4 min read
Published 21 June 2018 at 7:00am
By Dave Lewis