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Aussies seek flying start against Thais
Tim Cahill is excited by the new era of the Australia team under coach Holger Osieck as the Socceroos launch their 2014 World Cup campaign against Thailand in Brisbane on Friday.
The Australians have lost only once in 11 matches under German Osieck this year among wins over Germany and Wales and are vying for their third consecutive finals' appearance in Brazil in three years' time.
Osieck is blending the big-name Socceroo stars with emerging overseas-based talent and the best of the domestic A-League, to be reinforced this season with the return from Europe of senior internationals Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton.
Everton star Cahill, the team's talisman with 23 goals in 52 internationals, believes a new era in Australian football is evolving.
"I think our depth is fantastic after seeing players like (Michael) Zullo, James Troisi or (Adam) Sarota come through," Cahill said Thursday.
"I focus on what we have here and the players that bring so much to the team.
"And I was really impressed with what I saw in (the recent 2-1 friendly win against) Wales.
"It's fantastic to be a part of the last era and move forward to this era with these players. The transition is perfect."
The Thais, coached by German Winfried Schaefer, are ranked 98 slots below Asia's second-ranked team Australia and face a stiff test in their first outing in Group D.
Thailand won through to the group stage after a 3-2 two-legged playoff against Palestine, but Schaefer, who led Cameroon to the 2002 World Cup, is confident his team can trouble the fancied Australians.
"Australia play a high standard of football, but I think we can give them a good game," Schaefer said.
"I think we have the speed with our short-passing game to upset them, but you must fight, you must run and you must play with courage against Australia."
Australia won 4-0 the last time the two teams met in a 2007 Asian Cup match in Bangkok.
Thailand have been offered a team bonus of two million baht (around US$65,000) to bring off an upset win over the Socceroos.
"We have never offered this amount of money before, but this is because it is an important match and we don't want to miss the chance to qualify for the World Cup," said Thai FA board member Samart Suppoj.
Cahill insists there will be no Australian complacency.
"It's all about attitude and the way we apply ourselves. Respect to them, they'll be difficult, but hopefully we'll get off to a flying start," he said.
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