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Socceroos star Tim Cahill relived his 2006 World Cup heroics with two second half goals against Japan to ensure Australia ended their qualifying campaign for South Africa 2010 in triumph. 

Australia won 2-1 at the MCG on Wednesday night, meaning they went unbeaten through the eight games of their final phase of qualifying and stayed ahead of Japan at the top of their group to earn Asian bragging rights.

Cahill, who scored the first two goals in Australia’s World Cup history to spark a famous 3-1 comeback victory over Japan in Germany in 2006, was again the shining light for the Socceroos against the Blue Samurai.

While both sides were already guaranteed World Cup qualification before Wednesday night’s match, Cahill’s second half heroics at least gave an MCG crowd of 69,238 plenty to cheer about.

There had been precious few moments for the green and gold army to get excited about before the break, as Australia continued the effective but unadventurous style that had served them well previously in the campaign.

Their one real chance of the first half came in the 10th minute, when Cahill ran onto a long ball in the box.

His left foot shot was not hit with enough venom to trouble goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki, who blocked it away.

But the rebound ended up with Mile Sterjovski, whose much more powerful shot required a brilliant reflex move by the `keeper to deflect it over the crossbar.

Cahill had another chance from the resultant corner, with a header from the box, but was wide of the target.

Japan did most of most of the attacking for the rest of the half and eventually opened the scoring through Tulio Tanaka in the 40th minute.

Tanaka made a well-timed run into the middle of the box from a corner kick and leapt over Cahill to head it home.

It broke a seven-game streak of clean sheets for Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who had spent his previous 710 minutes in goal without conceding.

But the rare blot on their defensive copybook stirred the Socceroos into life after break and they attacked constantly in the opening stages of the second half.

It took a brilliant Cahill header to level the scores in the 59th minute.

He produced a huge leap above two Japanese defenders at the left side of the box to connect with a long-range Vince Grella free kick and head it into the right side of the net.

The goal seemed to inspire Cahill to press even harder for the winner, getting onto the end of several promising attacking moves in the following minutes.

He eventually gave the Socceroos the lead in the 76th minute, when a Nicky Carle corner kick from the right side floated over a pack of players in the box.

Cahill, lurking at the back, got enough of his right leg to the ball to send it home and lift the crowd to their feet.

It was his 16th goal in 33 internationals and he was later given a huge ovation as he walked to the bench in the 86th minute, having once again lifted Australia to a comeback victory over Japan.

But, asked after the match about his scoring record against Japan, Cahill would only speak about the Melbourne crowd, a possible snub to the media who have criticised the Socceroos’ playing style.

“I’d just like to thank the crowd, the lads, a great turnout in Melbourne, I’m so proud to be here, so proud to play tonight so I think the credit just goes to the crowd, you were brilliant,” he said.

“This is a step forward for us, it’s great to finish top of the group.”

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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SYDNEY (AFP) — Prime Minister Kevin Rudd officially launched Australia’s bid to host the football World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

Rudd told an official ceremony at Parliament House in the national capital Canberra that Football Federation Australia (FFA) had the full backing of the government to bid for the showpiece event.

“The sheer odds are tough against Australia, eight other countries, but the reason the government had got behind the bid is that we as a nation can rise behind this great bid,” Rudd said.aus_worldcup

The premier said the chance to host a World Cup was a great opportunity for the nation.                               

“The challenges are great, but the prize is much greater,” he said.

“I salute those who have had the courage and the initiative and creativity to bring forth this idea.”

English Premier League stars, national skipper Lucas Neill and goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, also spoke at the launch, urging Australians to throw their support behind the World Cup bid.

FFA chairman Frank Lowy said it would be an “unparalleled opportunity” for Australia to earn official acceptance as a World Cup host.

“On the world stage, there is no event with the same level of global appeal or audience reach as the FIFA World Cup,” the property billionaire said in a statement.

Lowy said Australia?s “secret weapon” for winning the World Cup bid was the Australian people, and Australia’s desirability as a travel destination.

“People from all over the world want to visit our country and thanks to the performance of the Socceroos at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, as well as the many thousands of Australian fans who followed them, the rest of the world has a very positive view of us.”

Lowy also pointed to Australia’s record of hosting successful major sports events such as the 1956 and 2000 Olympic Games.

Australia are among nine bidders, along with Belgium-Netherlands, England, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Portugal-Spain, Russia and the United States, for the 2018 World Cup.

The same nine bidders are also in the running for the 2022 World Cup, along with Qatar and South Korea.

World football governing body FIFA will announce both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts in December 2010.

Australia have already qualified to play in next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

Source  :  www.google.com

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