(AFP) – Despite Australia already having been eliminated from the World Cup, the Socceroos all-time leading scorer Tim Cahill believes Australian football can take a huge step forward with victory over dethroned world champions Spain on Monday.
Both sides hopes of progression to the last 16 have been ended by successive defeats to Chile and the Netherlands, but whilst Spain have endured a nightmare defence of their title in Brazil, Australia have taken huge encouragement from their performances.
Ange Postecoglou’s men had led the Dutch in the second-half in their last outing thanks to a wonder strike from Cahill and Mile Jedinak’s penalty before being eventually losing 3-2.
Cahill will miss the match in Curitiba having picked up his second yellow card of the tournament in that match, but has backed his teammates to make history.
“We’ve got one more game to go and it is not about Tim Cahill,” said the New York Red Bulls forward.
“This last game is massive. If we beat Spain that will be one of the biggest moments in Australian history.”
Australia had arrived in Brazil as the lowest ranked side in the tournament, but far from being intimated by their more illustrious opponents they impressively took the game to Chile and the Netherlands in their two outings so far.
And capitan Jedinak is determined to bow out with something to show for their performances.
“It’s going to be up to us again to go out there and get something out of the Spanish, and try to force our game on them,” he said.
“We’ve done that in both of those games and although we haven’t come away with anything it’s time we make that right.”
The post mortem into Spain’s disastrous exit after winning three consecutive major tournaments has already begun with doubts over whether coach Vicente del Bosque will remain in charge.
The former Real Madrid boss has insisted he will take no decision over his future until he is back on Spanish soil, but he is expected to make a raft of changes to the side that failed to match Chile’s intensity in their 2-0 defeat to the South Americans in Rio on Wednesday.
Captain Iker Casillas, Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso may all have played their final game for La Roja as they are likely to miss out with Pepe Reina, Koke and Santi Cazorla expected to be given their chance to shine.
However, defender Raul Albiol insists that pride will motivate the dethroned champions to fight until the end and assure they don’t return home without even registering a point.
“We are at a World Cup, we may be eliminated but we need to win and take some points so that we are not last in the group,” said the former Real Madrid man.
“We are representing our country and these are the last 90 minutes.
“Unfortunately we will be going home afterwards, but the fact it is a World Cup is enough to motivate us.”
Gerard Pique is also expected to be missing for Spain as he is doubtful after sitting out training on Saturday with an abductor problem.