The 2018 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF–AFC qualification play-off between Australia and Honduras is right around the corner, and Socceroo star Tim Cahill’s readiness is still in question. The attacking midfielder injured his right ankle during a 1-0 Melbourne City loss to Sydney FC in the A-League last week.
Fans of both top-flight Australian squads released a collective groan as Cahill went down to the ground after an accidental collision with Sydney FC defender Jordi Bujis. Clutching his right ankle, he immediately waved for a sub. The crowd knew it was his final match before representing his country in the World Cup qualifiers seven days later.
Fox Sports‘ David Weiner expressed concern for the undermanned Socceroos. Cahill is not the only player in doubt for Australia as veterans Mathew Leckie (suspension), Mark Milligan (suspension), and Robbie Kruse (knee injury) are also out. Weiner said that Head Coach Ange Postecoglou has “never played a game” with all four unavailable.
Meanwhile, ABC News‘ Dean Bilton said that Australia could win over Honduras with or without Cahill. Bilton noted that Cahill’s influence on Postecoglou’s system has “waned” and that he is “no longer a guaranteed starter,” but a super-sub that gives a spark off the bench.
Still, Cahill, who will turn 38 next month, is considered as the Socceroo’s inspirational leader both on and off the pitch.
Cahill traveled with the squad to San Pedro Sula earlier this week, which indicated that the team had gambled on including him in the lineup. Still, his availability was unclear.
However, just hours ago, Cahill tweeted that he completed the final practice of Postecoglou’s squad, indicating that he is ready and available for the Honduras clash. Included in the tweet were Cahill’s on-field photos with the ankle looking strong and healthy.
Cahill confirmed that he would play for the Australian side by including the word “our” in his tweet.
Final session done before our big game tomorrow against Honduras. ????????⚽️???????? pic.twitter.com/XHjVHU9fQp
— TIM CAHILL (@Tim_Cahill) November 10, 2017
Surely, it is a “big game” for both national teams being the first leg of a two-leg qualifying playoff series. The winner gets to go to the main event next year in Russia. For Cahill, getting there is “all that matters,” according to The New Paper.
“It’s the biggest two weeks of our lives. If we get to a World Cup, that’s all that matters,” Cahill said. “I’ll give it a go but, if not, I want to be in the trenches with my teammates.”
The Australia versus Honduras match is set at the Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The game starts at 4 p.m. UTC-6. It is the first time these two teams are going to meet and the first time for Australia to play in Central America.
[Featured Image by Michael Dodge/Getty Images]