84 – Tim Cahill: Australia v Japan 2006 – 90 World Cup Minutes In 90 Days

WFI‘s Adam Brandon counts down to Russia 2018 with 90 World Cup goals in 90 days, scored in the minute corresponding to the day in the countdown.


Tim Cahill and Australia had quite an emotional journey on the path to reach the World Cup in Germany in 2006.

Australia had been denied in an intercontinental play-off four times in succession before finally overcoming Uruguay in a dramatic penalty shoot-out in November 2005.

Football had struggled to gain significant popularity since it was introduced in Australia in the nineteenth century.

However, this Australian side would capture the hearts of the nation, and one of its key figures was attacking midfielder/forward Tim Cahill.

Cahill had moved to England when he was just sixteen, seeking a professional contract whilst promising his family that he would make it so his parents wouldn’t have to work again.

Millwall took the chance and he repaid them (and eventually that promise to his parents) with many a match winning display, including getting his team to the FA Cup final in 2004.

Cahill also had the habit of grabbing vital goals for Australia and went into the 2006 World Cup as one of their star players, but was surprisingly named on the bench by manager Guus Hiddink for their first game against Japan.

Cahill entered the field of play in the 52nd minute with Australia trailing 1-0 to a controversial goal in the first half. Australia were the better side for the majority of the game but couldn’t find a breakthrough until…


The Goal

In the 84th minute, a long throw from Lucas Neill causes the Japanese goalkeeper to come and try and deal with it but he completely misses the ball.

It falls to Harry Kewell who has his shot blocked, but Cahill is there to turn the ball home. It marked Australia’s first ever goal in the World Cup finals.


What Happened Next?

Cahill popped up again 5 minutes later, this time curling a beautiful shot in-off the post from the edge of the area.

John Aloisi added a third to give Australia their first ever win in the World Cup Finals.

The Socceroos did fall to defeat against Brazil in their next game but they followed it up with a draw against Croatia to reach the 2nd round thanks to a Kewell equaliser.

Kewell was out injured for the last 16 clash with Italy, and his absence proved costly as Australia failed to make the extra man count when Materazzi was sent off on 50 minutes. In the 95th minute they conceded a penalty that was expertly dispatched by Francisco Totti.

Cahill continued to make a major impact in the English Premier League with Everton before going on to play in MLS for New York Red Bulls.

Spells in China and Australia followed as his career wound down before heading back to Millwall – where he could help them to an unlikely promotion push to the Premier League.

The man from Sydney is also Australia’s all-time leading goal scorer, including three goals at the Asian Cup on home soil in 2015, which Australia won.

He also scored in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups to bring his total to five in football’s greatest tournament.

At the age of 38 he continues to be part of the Australia squad, and he is set to appear in his fourth World Cup this June.



Given how important the 2006 World Cup is in Australia’s sporting history, there are many documentaries on the subject, below are two of the best:

First, one detailing the dramatic qualification against Uruguay on November 16th 2001:


And also one that looks at the two weeks in June 2006, where Australia created history and this documentary serves a great tribute to legendary broadcaster Les Murray:


Cahill scores a stunning goal against the Netherlands in the 2014 World Cup: