One man who will be out to impact Sunday’s do or die clash between Melbourne City and Perth Glory is stalwart Socceroo Tim Cahill.
The Australia legend’s form is peaking at the perfect time as he heads into his maiden A-League finals match, with four goals in as many appearances.
Why he’s important
At 37, many were doubting the impact Cahill would make upon his belated homecoming to the A-League. However he has proved more than capable of filling the sizeable void left by Aaron Mooy for City, offering support to marksman Bruno Fornaroli from a central-midfield position.
Cahill’s ability to step up on the big occasion is well documented; he is capable of producing a single match-winning moment out of nothing. This x-factor is a valuable asset for City, and could well prove vital against Perth during their elimination encounter.
When not directly impacting play, the well recognised aerial threat that he offers requires special attention from opposition defenders. This often diverts focus, creating opportunities for teammates in crossing and set piece scenarios.
His season so far
Cahill’s maiden A-League season got off to a flyer, as his long-range stunner stole the show in Round 2’s Melbourne Derby. A few weeks later, his lone header proved decisive as Melbourne City defeated Sydney FC 1-0 in the FFA Cup final.
Injury, suspension and international duty have kept him out of a handful of league matches throughout the season, as he appeared in 21 out of 27, with four of those as a substitute.
However last weekend’s brace against Sunday’s opponent Perth Glory highlighted the form the attacker has gathered late in the season.
Despite his occasional struggle for consistency, Cahill has chipped in with 11 goals, the second highest total at the club behind Fornaroli, as well as the highest in the league for a midfielder.
The goals were amassed from a total of 13 shots on target, proving that the veteran has not lost his clinical touch. He has also created seven chances, and registered one assist.
Entering this weekend’s match fired up and in formidable form, Cahill is one to watch as City attempt to secure a place in the A-League qualifying final.