World Cup qualification essential for Australian soccer, says Cahill

Socceroos veteran Tim Cahill is under no illusions about how important qualification for the next World Cup is - not just for him, but for the game in Australia.

"This is what we live for," the Melbourne City striker and most decorated Socceroo said. "As a nation there's a lot riding on it, purely because of the momentum of where the game is at.

"This is the biggest foundation we can build off and regardless of what everyone says, it will affect football in Australia if we don't qualify," said Cahill, currently in Malaysia with the national team as it prepares for Thursday night's qualifier against Syria.

"You always see a spike in numbers and participation (after qualification), even afterwards, and (the) excitement (it brings).

"Even if they (the Australian public ) don't like soccer they get around and watch it."

Cahill would, should Australia qualify and he be part of the squad, be going to his fourth World Cup. Mark Milligan is the only other player in the current set up to have been to the last three tournaments alongside Cahill, but the front man has not only played in most Australia games, but has scored at all three tournaments he has been involved in.

To play in and score at a fourth would put him in very exalted company indeed, alongside players like Brazilian genius Pele (1958-70) and the German stars Uwe Seeler (1958-70) and Miroslav Klose (2002-14).

That is not his primary motivation, however. It is, he says, about succeeding for the sake of he game and doing whatever it takes to make qualification happen.

"The Socceroos is what it is, we know what we've got to do, we've got to go the hard way and it's going to be really tough.

"We have to have the siege mentality on (October 5 and 10), going into camp. It's all or nothing, and that's all or nothing for the first bit, there's another section after that.

"I'm confident with this group of lads and confident we'll go through to the next phase and we have to think like that."

Whilst coach Ange Postecoglou has come in for criticism in some quarters for his tactics, Cahill takes the wider view and believes that his influence is far more than just what goes on on the pitch during international matches.

"His effect on the game, in years and years to come, people will sit there and go wow, an Australian coach did that to our country in four years. Won us an Asian Cup, was undefeated in the qualifiers other than the Japan away game, and he changed the footprint of football in Australia.

"I'm talking A-League, everyone plays Ange's style, it's nothing new. Now our Socceroos are playing and dominating games ... they'll miss him when he's gone."

This story World Cup qualification essential for Australian soccer, says Cahill first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.