Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cometh the hour, cometh the man! Tim Cahill saves Australia...again

Tim Cahill saves Australia...again.

Australian midfielder Tim Cahill reprised his role as a super-sub from the FIFA 2006 World Cup, scoring in stoppage time to salvage a 1-1 draw against an impressive Oman.

The Socceroos were within seconds of plunging to defeat in their first ever Asian Cup match, only for substitute Cahill to lash home after Omani goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi had spilled Mark Bresciano's low drive.

Oman outplayed Australia for the entire ninety minutes, and took a deserved lead through striker Badar Mubarek just after the half hour mark.

Imad Ali had too much pace down the left hand side and his accurate cut-back fell to Mubarek, who blasted a shot that Mark Schwarzer could only help into the back of the net.

The shell-shocked Australians conjured little in response, and even the introduction of substitute John Aloisi at half-time failed to spark the Aussies.

Mark Schwarzer was called into action twice late in the second half - first pulling off a superb diving save to keep out an Imad Ali header, before standing tall to deny substitute Fawzi Bashir after he had burst clean through on goal.

Tim Cahill returned from injury and after sixty-two minutes he was handed his first competitive action since March, but the monsoonal storm that swept across the ground with ten minutes remaining looked likely to sweep Australia's chances away with it.

Cahill was in the right spot at the right time, however, becoming the first Australian to score at both the FIFA World Cup finals and AFC Asian Cup finals.

Oman coach Gabriel Calderon praised his side's efforts, in a match in which they out-thought and out-fought their highly regarded opponents.
When questioned by reporters if he was surprised by the result, Australia coach Graham Arnold responded "maybe we're not as good as we thought we were."
Arnold is expected to make changes ahead of Australia's vital clash with Iraq on July 13.

Oman, meanwhile, will go into their clash with hosts Thailand on July 12 brimming with confidence.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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