Life without Tim Cahill — The Next Step.

Recently recalled Socceroo’s striker Nathan Burns has been in scintillating form for the Wellington Phoenix in Season 10 of the Hyundai A-League. Lighting up the scoring charts with 10 goals in 11 games so far, it was no surprise that Burns made the cut into Ange Postecoglou’s final 23 for next month’s Asian Cup. Having not played a game for the Socceroo’s since 2011, Burns has had a long and tedious path back to the top of his form. Running a dry spell in Greece with only 10 goals in 69 games, before a brief stint in Korea, Burns has really found his feet again settling into a solid technical squad with the Wellington Phoenix. Surrounded by the technical master class of Roly Bonevacia and Mike McGlinchy, Burns has proved this season that if he is presented with opportunities, he has the composure and finesse to take them.

Australian football has entered an interesting period. A home-grown manager who has proven his ability in the Hyundai A-League, a partial clear-out of some overage talent, and only 1 win in the last calendar year has seen the Socceroo’s ranking slip to 100. Positive performances at the FIFA World Cup generated hope and expectations on this team to achieve great things at the upcoming Asian Cup. But with a string of bad results a mental effect on the team has to have taken its toll. A big issue for the Socceroo’s is the goals. Our golden boy Tim Cahill bagged 8 out of the 15 goals the Socceroo’s have scored in 2014. At the ripe old age of 35, Cahill can’t have much more left in the tank after the Asian Cup, which springs the question of ‘what’s next?’ Where are the goals going to come from once Timmy has hung up the boots?

Nathan Burns, who can carry so much form into the Asian Cup, has a brilliant opportunity to throw his name in the hat as the leader of the next step. As long as he makes the most of the time he earns, the Socceroo’s could have found a ready made replacement for our long time hero. This tournament is a great chance for Australia to build for the future and prepare heavily for life after Tim Cahill.

The Asian Cup kicks off on January 9.

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