Australia forward Tim Cahill will lead the Socceroos in Monday’s World Cup warmup against South Africa in Sydney, with recently named captain Mile Jedinak still recovering from injury, the team said on Sunday.
The 34-year-old striker, named vice-captain for the Brazil finals along with midfielder Mark Bresciano last week, will lead Australia for the first time in his 68th international in front of home-town fans.
“Tim’s leadership and the way he conducts himself in the group as a senior player has been impressive and with Mile not able to play against South Africa, Tim will captain the side,” coach Ange Postecoglou said in a statement.
Australia’s top scorer with 31 goals and a veteran of the Socceroos’ last two World Cup appearances at South Africa in 2010 and Germany in 2006, the New York Red Bulls striker was thrilled with the appointment, however temporary.
“This is far and away the proudest day of my football career,” said Cahill. “I think it’s an honour to put on the green and gold shirt and play for the Socceroos but to lead the team out will be amazing.
“I’ve always said you don’t have to have an armband to be a leader but captaining my country in the sport that has given me everything in life is going to be an amazing experience and I look forward to the responsibility Ange has given me while Mile is out injured.”
Crystal Palace skipper Jedinak suffered a groin strain in the Premier League club’s final match of the season, but is expected to be fit for next month’s tournament in Brazil, where Australia will play a warmup against Croatia prior to their group matches against world champions Spain, Netherlands and Chile, reports Reuters.