Socceroos to take leap sans Cahill

Socceroos to take leap sans Cahill

Having proved they have not missed the majority of their 'golden generation' in two spirited performances in Brazil, Australia will have to take the final leap into the future without talisman Tim Cahill in their last World Cup match.

Battling defeats to Chile and the Netherlands mean the Socceroos will definitely be returning home after their Group B clash with vanquished world champions Spain in Curitiba next Monday, but they will do so with heads held high.

In eight months, coach Ange Postecoglou has transformed a geriatric squad that stumbled through qualifying for Brazil and lost back-to-back friendlies 6-0 into a swashbackling outfit that rocked two of the best teams in the tournament.

At the heart of those performances was Cahill, who was hailed back home as Australia's greatest player of all time after scoring a contender for goal of the tournament in the 3-2 defeat to the Dutch in Porto Alegre on Wednesday.

The sumptuous volley was the 34-year-old's 34th goal in 71 games for his country but it could end up being his last as the yellow card he also picked up in the match means he will miss the clash with Spain.

"We are not going to make any excuses now that Timmy is out. Someone else will come in and do a job," Postecoglou said.

"Against the best opposition in the world our approach won't change."
Although Cahill also offered experience and inspirational leadership, it will be his goals – five of Australia's 11 over the last three World Cups – that will be most missed.

Winger Mathew Leckie has been a revelation in Brazil without getting on the scoresheet and Australia were left ruing his failure to bundle home Tommy Oar's bizarre cross just before Memphis Depay scored the Dutch winner in Porto Alegre.

Adam Taggart, the leading scorer in the A-League last season, and Ben Halloran, who had a prolific season with Fortuna Duesseldorf, are other options to start up front.

Both are 21 and they have little more than a handful of caps between them but you would not rule out either, or both, making their mark against Spain given the alchemy Postecoglou has worked so far on his young squad.

Handed the task of avoiding humiliation in Brazil and winning next January's Asian Cup on home soil when he was appointed last October, Postecoglou has already far exceeded expectations.