Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said evergreen striker Tim Cahill could play all the way to the next World Cup as the goals keep coming for the 35-year-old. The newly crowned Asian coach of the year said retirement was not on the cards for Australia’s record scorer, who struck three this month against Bangladesh to reach 45 international goals.
“The way he’s going at the moment, yeah,” Postecoglou said late on Sunday at the Asian Football Confederation awards, when asked if Cahill could figure at Russia 2018.
“He can’t stop scoring goals and if he keeps scoring goals he’ll keep getting picked. He’s been fantastic for us. We’ve got a very young group so his experience is pretty important at the moment and he’s still playing very well.”
The ex-Everton and New York Red Bulls forward, now with Shanghai Shenhua, will be pushing 39 if he makes it to the 2018 World Cup, but he remains a key man for Australia.
Cahill’s goals helped Australia win their maiden Asian Cup title in January, and he is also at the forefront of their qualifying drive to reach a fourth straight World Cup.
“I’m just enjoying him scoring goals for us at the moment. I’ll think about him moving on when the time is right,” Postecoglou said, in response to questions from AFP.
“At the moment I think he’s still performing very very well for us and he’s a massive contributor. We’ve got some young players coming through who we know will help us get to the next level but we’re certainly not going to push Timmy into retirement while he’s playing the way he is.”
Postecoglou was speaking after picking up the gong for coach of the year at a Bollywood-inspired ceremony near New Delhi, after leading the Socceroos to the Asian Cup title in January. He said Australia now needed to lift their sights higher – with the focus first on reaching the next World Cup, and then making a deep run:
“First goal obviously is to challenge for the next World Cup but also to make an impact.
“I think as a nation now we’ve qualified for the last three, that’s not enough for us any more. We’ve got to go to a World Cup and really make an impact.
“I’m on record as saying at some point the European and South American dominance of the World Cup needs to be broken and I think Asia’s a continent that’s capable of doing that.”