Cahill carrying hopes of host nation at Asian Cup
SYDNEY (AP) — Tim Cahill is thriving on the challenge of delivering the Asian Cup title to Australia for the first time.
The Australians host 2002 World Cup semifinalist South Korea in the final at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium on Saturday night, determined to go one better than a runner-up finish to Japan four years ago.
The evergreen 35-year-old Cahill — with a record 39 goals from 81 appearances for Australia — has again led the way for the Socceroos, netting three times in five games this tournament, including both goals in the quarterfinal win over China.
A veteran of three World Cup campaigns, and with an impressive career in English club football at Everton and Millwall to his name, Cahill said a continental championship will be his career highlight.
“I play for these moments and I play to try and make a difference in Australian football,” Cahill said. “I’ve played in World Cups and all the other tournaments, but to play on home turf and to hopefully do something special and win a tournament like this, will definitely cap it off.”
That comment suggested Saturday’s title decider will be an international finale for a man who many now regard as Australia’s greatest ever player, but he would not confirm that before the game.
“That’s something I’ll talk about after,” Cahill said. “My main focus is the final and hopefully trying to win something that’s really special for our country.”
More certain about making his international farewell is South Korea’s Cha Du-ri. The 34-year-old midfielder, who spent most of his professional career in Germany, announced before the trip to Australia that he would retire from the national team after the tournament.