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By ESPN Staff

Cahill warns Italy not to underestimate Australia

Tim Cahill has warned Italy to underestimate Australia at their peril in Kaiserslautern today.

The Socceroos have advanced to the last 16 despite being in front for a sum total of five minutes in the entire three-match group stage.

That short spell in the opening game against Japan proved pivotal in getting Australia into the knockout phase.

But Cahill is adamant anyone who thinks the men from Down Under are fortunate to be in this position are sadly mistaken.

'We have not fluked our way through and we have not benefited from a sequence of lucky results,' said Cahill.

'We have a great spirit and attitude, we are very fit and we have good players. I am sure our performances have opened the eyes of a lot of people to how good we are, including Italy.

'They are a great side, with so much tradition. But, while we respect them, we certainly do not fear them. With our ability and discipline, we can do a job against anybody.'

The chances of Italy taking any team coached by Guus Hiddink lightly are pretty remote.

Italian minds still shudder at the memory of a Hiddink-inspired South Korea turning them over at the same stage of the competition four years ago and with a favourable quarter-final pairing with either Switzerland or the Ukraine awaiting the winners, Azzurri boss Marcello Lippi will be keen to avoid another unexpected setback.

'I think everyone has been concerned about the Hiddink factor, not just Italy,' said Cahill.

'However, after what happened in Korea I am sure they will have a lot of respect for him and his tactics.

'If what happened four years ago helps us that would be fine but, as players, we know we have to do our own jobs.'

Hiddink has already confirmed his intention to recall keeper Mark Schwarzer following Zeljko Kalac's disastrous performance against Croatia.

The wily Dutch coach also has to find a replacement for suspended full-back Brett Emerton, while Harry Kewell is also a major doubt with a long-standing groin problem.

Kewell's absence would be a major blow for Australia, although not one which would dent confidence inside the Socceroos camp too much.

Already, Australia are planning for the possibility of penalties, with Cahill ready to stick his hand up and take one if required.

'I am sure we have enough guys who can step up and do the job but I would definitely be up for it,' said the Everton midfielder.