Stats Insider: How Socceroos, Cahill joined elite company in first FIFA World Cup win

On this day in 2006, Australia went back to the FIFA World Cup after a 32 year wait since their first appearance in 1974, where they played three games, won none (1 draw, 2 losses) and didn’t score a single goal.

Australia came to the 2006 edition with an outsider status, entering into a difficult group with the FIFA World Cup holder Brazil, Croatia and Japan.

For their opening game of the 2006 edition, Australia faced Japan in Kaiserslautern, the first time that two AFC teams faced each other at the World Cup.

The experienced Japanese team struck first, with Shunsuke Nakamura scoring after 26 minutes of play.

Picking up the three points seemed complicated for Australia as, before that, only one AFC team managed to win a FIFA World Cup game after conceding the opening goal, out of a total of 53 games involving AFC teams (South Korea v Italy in 2002).

The changes made by Guus Hiddink in the second half totally modified the outcome of the game, with three goals scored by Australia from the 84th minute, all by substitute players (Tim Cahill x2, John Aloisi), to create a memorable comeback.

Tim Cahill gives Socceroos the lead over Japan

READ: 'One of the most special days of my life': Simon Hill's Japan FIFA World Cup 2006 Diary

In fact, Australia was only the third team have seen three or more goals scored by substitutes in a FIFA World Cup game. In total, only five teams have earned this statistic.

They also became the second country from the Asia/Oceania zone to score three goals in a FIFA World Cup game, after North Korea against Portugal in 1966 (3-5).

3+ goals scored by substitutes in a WC game

Team

Opponent

Date

Goals by sub

Hungary

El Salvador

15/06/1982

4

Australia

Japan

12/06/2006

3

Russia

Saudi Arabia

14/06/2018

3

Argentina

Serbia

16/06/2006

3

Paraguay

Slovenia

12/06/2002

3

 

The man of the match couldn’t be anyone other than Tim Cahill.

Subbed on at the 53rd minute to replace Mark Bresciano, Cahill gave his team some hope when he scored Australia’s first goal in a World Cup game at the 84th minute and then put all their supporters on their feet when he found the back of the net five minutes later to give Australia a definitive lead.

To conclude that afternoon, Cahill also assisted John Aloisi for Australia’s third goal and became only the second player since 1966 to score a brace and to assist a goal as a substitute for his first FIFA World Cup game, after Paraguay’s Nelson Cuevas in 2002.

John Aloisi seals Socceroos' win over Japan

 

2+ goals by substitutes in their first WC game

Player

Team

Opponent

Year

Goals

Assists

Tim Cahill

Australia

Japan

2006

2

1

Nelson Cuevas

Paraguay

Slovenia

2002

2

1

Laszlo Kiss

Hungary

El Salvador

1982

3

0

Denis Cheryshev

Russia

Saudi Arabia

2018

2

0

 

After that precious win over Japan, Australia lost against Brazil (0-2) but drew against Croatia (2-2) to secure the second place of the group and qualify to the Last 16 round where they were knocked out by Italy (0-1).

Despite starting all the other three games, Tim Cahill failed to score more goals that year.

However, the Australian legend added three more goals in the following World Cups (1 in 2010 and 2 in 2014) to become the best goal scorer from the AFC in the tournament (5 goals).

Tim Cahill relives heroics v Japan