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Jun 11, 2012

Socceroos coach not ruling out Cahill

The man who has made a habit of tormenting Japan - Tim Cahill - might get another chance to put the Blue Samurai to the sword in Australia's crunch World Cup qualifier at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday night.

Six years since his two-goal heroics kick-started a wild 2006 World Cup ride, Cahill again loomed as a danger to Japan after Socceroos coach Holger Osieck refused to rule out a return to the starting side for the veteran.

Cahill appeared out of favour after being an unused substitute in Australia's opening qualifier - a 0-0 draw with Oman last weekend at a stiflingly hot Muscat.

But Australia need something special to stop the Japanese juggernaut that has cruised to the top of Group B by starting the final qualifying stage with nine goals and two impressive home wins.

And Cahill might be it after Osieck said on Monday the Everton star was "always an option" for the starting team.

"Looking at our group, everybody on the list could be on the pitch," Osieck said.

"I haven't decided yet and Tim is definitely always an option for the starting XI."

Besides his two late goals in the come-from-behind 3-1 2006 win in Germany, Cahill also hit the back of the net twice in Australia's 2-1 home win over Japan during 2010 World Cup qualifying.

Memories of Australia's Cahill-inspired 2006 World Cup heroics still bring a smile to Socceroos captain Lucas Neill's face.

"We were 1-0 down until 83 minutes into the game and, all of a sudden, we scored three goals and completely turned our tournament around," he said in Brisbane on Monday.

"It's an experience like that one that gave everyone a taste - they want to continue experiencing moments like that on the world stage."

Japan lead Australia by five points in Group B but the Socceroos have a game in hand.

A top-two group finish guarantees a Brazil 2014 nod.

"The game is important because we are at home and we need maximum points from every game we play," Neill said.

"I think Japan is the favourite for this game.

"But by no means do we see that as a bad thing. We like the underdogs tag."

World No.23 Japan have emerged as Asia's top-ranked side after overtaking Australia (No.24).

"There is no problem with how that sits," Neill said.

"Australia lost to Japan in the Asian Cup (in 2011). That's why they are No.1 in Asia in my mind.

"But in our team, we don't believe we are second best."

Since the 2006 World Cup, Australia and Japan have met five times with two wins each and a draw.

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