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High hopes rest on Cahill despite low key debut

Soccer

Adding thousands to attendances, serenading his new team and, now, getting on the field, Tim Cahill already feels like he’s been at Melbourne City forever and is loving being home.

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The 36-year-old made his debut for City as a second-half substitute in the 2-1 victory over Brisbane Strikers last night, 24 hours after been forced into an initiation karaoke session, singing a Bill Withers soul classic – just as he did at Everton when he first joined the Premier League club 12 years ago.

“It’s a good group, they made me sing last night which was awesome,” Cahill said.

“It was great I went after (Neil) Kilkenny, because he was terrible.

“I sung Lean On Me, it was the first one I sung when Duncan Ferguson got me on the stage at Everton.

“I feel like I’ve been here forever.”

By his own admission there was little to take from Cahill’s performance on his City debut, but he was fully aware of its historical nature – his first club appearance in Australia since leaving for Millwall 19 years ago – and the impact he had in swelling the record 3,571 crowd, many of whom left with an autograph or selfie with the Soccerroos superstar.

“I think it’s part and parcel of coming back to this league and understanding the dynamics of what’s expected of me,” Cahill said.

“This is the importance of coming home. Spending time, filling out stadiums, this is what football’s all about growing communities and grassroots, making it bigger and raising awareness. This excites me as much as winning.”

Although City were far from dominant against their National Premier League Queensland opposition, Cahill is confident they are on their way to being a dominant side.

“The win for us is massive because we’ve got goals we set,” Cahill said.

“There’s only five existing players from last year so we’re starting a journey of something that could be special.

“We’re going to build a good culture. We’ll be critical of ourselves in-house to make ourselves better and also take care of each other because that’s what good teams do.

“We know the standards we have to get to and this is a stepping stone to that.

“The quality of footballers we have in this football club is very high. We’ve got a philosophy of football and style we want to play. Combinations will slowly work when its relaxed.”

-AAP

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