Will Tim Cahill get on the park?
Will Tim Cahill get on the park?

Pick Cahill or pay the price

TIM Cahill has to play. It's not up for discussion. Not a matter of opinion - or how much you know about football.

Because so much of this argument isn't debatable.

Try disputing any of this. Cahill is a Socceroos legend. He's our record goal scorer with a goals per game average in the national team that sits comfortably with the world's best strikers. Australia has struggled to score goals in its two group games in Russia. There's a negligible difference, if any, in what Cahill can reasonably be expected to produce at 38 years old - and without a lot of recent game time in club football behind him - and the other players who he is competing for a spot with.

If you agree with all that, you have every right to be outraged if Bert van Marwijk keeps him on the bench for the entire game against Peru.

There are some factors that are a matter of opinion.

Like whether there's a place in the game - particularly on the biggest stage of all - to pick a player based on anything other than performance.

Or whether it's important to give fans an opportunity to properly farewell a player that has given them so many enduring memories over the years.

But I know where I stand on both of them and it feels like most of Australia feels the same way.

From past players …

To big names …

To the leading newspaper in our biggest city …


… everyone wants to see Timmy run out one more time and have the chance to match history by scoring a goal at four consecutive World Cups - and help us win.

Van Marwijk, a Dutchman, said he's starting to feel "a bit Australian" after the past few months in charge of our national team. But he can cancel any holiday plans Down Under in 2019 and beyond if he gets this wrong.

We can only hope there are Aussie members of the Socceroos' support staff and the FFA - and perhaps a player or two - who can have a quiet word to him about what this means to our country.

Asked by news.com.au at Monday's press conference why Cahill had not played in the tournament, van Marwijk would not say. "I'm not going to discuss here players who are playing or don't play," he said.

Given the need to maintain any tactical advantage - as well as the confidence of every player in his squad - that response is understandable.

But a nation will want a better answer if Cahill is overlooked again.

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