The Netherlands have a bounty on Tim Cahill’s head as Australia pledge to keep their one-trick tactic in their World Cup mismatch.
Cahill’s head has been identified by the white-hot Dutch as the chief threat in their Porto Alegre fixture on Wednesday (Thursday AEST).
As Australia forecast no change to their primary scoring plan – kick it to Cahill – Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong says they’re wise.
“He’s a terrific player that always gives his heart and his all on the pitch, for his country or his club,” de Jong told reporters on Monday.
“We have to be careful because the timing to the ball with his headers is one of the best.
“He is one of the best timers I have seen from all the players around the world.
“So we have to take care of that very well. We have to take this game very serious.”
Cahill, Australia’s leading goalscorer, is one of just eight players to score in three or more World Cups.
The 34-year-old nodded Australia’s sole goal in their 3-1 loss to Chile in their tournament opener in Cuiaba last Friday.
And while the reliance on him is obvious, fellow stalwart Mark Bresciano said the Socceroos wouldn’t alter their main tactic of pinging crosses to Cahill.
“Looking towards the final third of the park, not much is going to change,” Bresciano told reporters on Monday.
“Because we do have a player like Tim, where if we give him the right service, he will be dangerous.
“That is still something that we are going to try to do, provide him service in the box.”
The Netherlands torched Spain 5-1 in their tournament opener but star striker Robin van Persie cautioned against a let-down against the Australians, the lowest-ranked of the 32 nations competing in Brazil.
Megastar van Persie, likely to be marked by novice defenders Jason Davidson or Alex Wilkinson, was wary of heightened Dutch expectations after their stunning triumph over Spain.
“After such a performance, the dynamics have naturally changed,” he said on Monday.
“However, as a country, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves.
“We have to stay realistic. We achieved an impressive result but we have a long way to go to win this tournament.
“This is my fifth (major) tournament and I know how these things work. The euphoria vanishes just as quickly as it appears.”
The Australians trained at their base in Vitoria on Monday morning before an afternoon charter flight to Porto Alegre, the southernmost city in Brazil.
But flying the other way was defender Ivan Franjic, who returned home with a torn hamstring.
Franjic appears set to be replaced at right-back by Ryan McGowan, who will join Matthew Spiranovic, Wilkinson and Davidson – with just 45 internationals between them – to try and stop the might of the Dutch attack.