Australia attacker Robbie Kruse believes Japan will be “scared” of coming up against Socceroos great Tim Cahill in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier in Melbourne.
Cahill famously broke Japanese hearts with his two goals off the bench at the 2006 World Cup and has been a constant nemesis ever since.
The last time the Socceroos played Japan in a qualifier in Melbourne it was another Cahill brace that secured a come-from-behind 2-1 win.
With that in mind, Kruse expects Japan to get jittery when the 36-year-old is on the pitch at the Etihad Stadium.
“He [Cahill] has got a good record and good history against Japan and they’re probably fearful of him,” Kruse told a news conference on Sunday.
“Every team in the world would be scared of Timmy. Regardless of his age or how fit he is at the moment, if you get a good delivery into the box he’ll win the ball nine times out of 10.
“Whether he starts or comes off the bench, he’ll have an impact. He brings a calmness to the rest of the group as well. His goal-to-game ratio is up there with the best in the world.
“Anytime he’s on the field for our team, every individual player gets a lift and he has that aura about him where you think he can score off every play.
It remains to be seen if coach Ange Postecoglou will unleash Cahill from the start against Japan, after using him late on against Saudi Arabia.
Cahill has started just one competitive match in the past few months, Melbourne City’s FFA Cup quarter-final win over Western Sydney Wanderers in September.
Team selection aside, Kruse is predicting a stern test against Australia’s traditional rivals in what is becoming an extremely tight group.
The Socceroos are tied at the top of the standings on seven points with Saudi Arabia, with Japan and the United Arab Emirates both a point further back.
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