Socceroos legend Tim Cahill has warned Australia’s heroic World Cup-bound players that tough times are still to come before they can compete at Qatar 2022.
With Cahill present in the stands at Al Rayyan Stadium on Tuesday, Australia achieved their fifth consecutive World Cup qualification with a nail-biting 5-4 penalty shootout win against Peru following a goalless draw in the 120 minutes.
Now that Australia has booked their plane ticket to Qatar for the November-December tournament, Cahill had a message for the victorious Socceroos players – that playing at the World Cup is not a given despite qualification.
“There’s no guarantee that you’ll be picked,” Cahill told AAP.
“I’ve played in four World Cups, but injuries, form – there’s a lot to think about.
“They’re the elements that they wouldn’t have been thinking about last night.
“The first thing that I thought about after 2005 is how am I going to get on the plane? My first World Cup. How am I going to stay fit? I need to play well when I get back to Everton.
“Same every World Cup. I don’t think that would have been their first thought walking off that pitch.
“That would have been relief and also elation but I think it’s going to hit when they go back to their clubs and they have to make sure that they can get themselves on that plane.”
Post-match, Socceroos players spoke of Cahill’s presence in the dressing room, with the Australian legend addressing the group before both the UAE and Peru matches.
But Cahill played down his impact on the players, insisting he was just a supporter of the nation.
“It’s great for me to give my expertise but at the same time I’m a fan,” he said.
“I’m not someone that’s part of the Australian national team set-up.
“They have their staff, they have their federation, and this was the 11th hour.
“We had to put everything we could together as a unit to make sure that anyone that could support the national team at this moment in time, to give one per cent to make us better or improved, then in the end everyone’s played a massive part.”