Cahill head and shoulders above the rest

March 26, 2013
By Doug Conway

Tim Cahill is in a class of his own - world class.

His aerial power is breath-taking.

The first man to score a World Cup finals goal for Australia, in Germany seven years ago, is still the man most likely.

Who cares if he is 33 years old?

Who cares if he no longer plies his trade in England's mighty Premier League, but across the pond in the US?

Take him out of the Socceroos, and the national team can start to look very ordinary indeed.

He was the inspiration behind Australia's CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) job against Oman, spurring his side to a draw from two goals down.

Cahill nodded home his team's first from a corner and was extremely unlucky not to head himself onto the scoresheet on three further occasions.

His leaping ability is phenomenal, and he generates enormous power from his headers.

He forced two superb saves from Oman's goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi.

Cahill and Al-Habsi turned this qualifier, in many respects, into a two-man show.

At the end, honours were probably even.

"We were unable to compete in the air with Cahill," admitted Oman coach Paul Le Guen.

"He is one of the best players in the world in the air.

"He has a good jump and is very difficult to control."

Australian coach Holger Osieck agreed, praising Cahill's jumping ability and timing, and describing him as a "permanent threat".

Osieck has many problems to solve if the Socceroos are to get over the qualification line for Brazil 2014 in their final three matches in June.

The most pressing is in the centre of defence, where Robert Cornthwaite and Michael Thwaite were tried for the first time together.

The sooner Lucas Neill - suspended for this match - returns, the better.

Without him, the central defensive cupboard is bare.

Australia can also be thankful for the spanking right boot of Brett Holman.

Despite being out of favour with his club side Aston Villa, and short of game time, he plugged away all night until he found the space to ram home Australia's equaliser.

It was similar, if not off quite as long a run, as the cracker he scored against Serbia in South Africa's 2010 World Cup.

Cream always seems to rise to the top in World Cup matches.

But no one rises quite like Tim Cahill.