TIM Cahill had tears in his eyes.
James Troisi says the reality of “having to work my arse off for this” hit home.
And Mark Milligan says it’s part of what makes Ange Postecoglou a great coach.
The Socceroos were amped for their decisive Confederations Cup clash with Chile in June.
And while the end result was a heartbreaking 1-1 draw, the South American powerhouse knew it was lucky to escape, with coach Juan Antonio Pizzi saying the level of the match was like a World Cup quarter-final.
News Corp can reveal details of why the Socceroos were so primed for the Moscow showdown that shifted many a perception about the team’s capabilities.
But Cahill, Troisi and Milligan insist that, no matter what the motivation was, the team can replicate the same level of intensity in Thursday’s critical World Cup qualifier against Japan in Saitama.
The Chile match was Cahill’s 100th international.
Postecoglou made him captain for the day, but even more moving was his presentation to the 37-year-old the night before, which detailed the career path of the Melbourne City star.
“It was a real personal moment and a lot of detail went into it,” Cahill said.
“The key thing that really made me feel special was the way he spoke about my family, the way he got photos of me as a kid with my dad, my mum, and got messages. I had tears in my eyes.
“The personality of Ange is to not give too much to players, he doesn’t even talk to them a lot in camp.
“This meant a lot and I think it resonated with the players.”
Troisi confirmed it did.
“As a footballer we kind of go through the motions sometimes and don’t really think about where we’ve come from, what we’ve achieved,” Troisi said.
“It was Timmy’s story, but it hits home for everyone because we’ve all been in the same boat and want to achieve the same things.”
It wasn’t the first time Postecoglou has played such a card, as Milligan said the coach is master motivator.
“We did things at the Asian Cup about the meaning of playing for this team and then along the way we’ve had different players and coaches hit certain milestones,” Milligan said.
“It’s a strong culture in terms of acknowledging individual highlights.”
There was the Cahill factor and then there was scoreboard pressure.
Australia had to defeat the world No.4 by two goals to move to the semi-finals.
Football: Mile Jedinak has been ruled out of the Socceroos clash with Japan due to a lingering groin injury.
Socceroo injury woes continue
The Socceroos were convinced they could do it despite Postecoglou revealing a starting XI that even had the players puzzled.
But it worked, as Australia harassed and harried Chile for 90 minutes.
Cahill led from the front with a crunching early tackle on star midfielder Arturo Vidal.
“I just said to the players, ‘Whatever happens, follow me. Throw yourself at the ball like it’s going to be your last ever game for Australia’,” Cahill said.
“And at the same time we played some amazing football.”
Troisi, Cahill’s fellow No.10 that day, said the Vidal tackle set the tone.
“As soon Timmy does that, everyone gets on board,” Troisi said.
“To be honest, physically it wasn’t as hard a game as it might have looked, because tactically we were so switched on.”
Australia had amassed four yellow cards in the first half, but man of the match Troisi said the rev-ups continued at half time.
“We just really wanted to stay in their faces, run them off the park, because it was working,” he said.
“It wasn’t about ‘go out there, be dirty and get a yellow card’, it was more ‘whatever you do, go in hard and earn it’.”
Chile’s equaliser midway through the second half was a blow considering the Socceroos had held considerable sway.
But the team ultimately paid for squandering several gilt-edged chances and were eliminated.
Thursday’s qualifier may not be a Cahill milestone, but Troisi said the motivation is no less significant given that a loss will likely send the Socceroos to the cut-throat playoffs.
“So you shouldn’t need someone to get you up.”
While “hugely disappointed” with the Chile result, Cahill is confident the performance would have been noted by Japan.
“And that’s what it’s going to be this week.”
Source: sports dailytelegraph