Australia fought back from a goal down with only 10 men to salvage a 1-1 home draw with Japan in World Cup qualifying and their star attacker hit back at his side's recent criticsSocceroo Tim Cahill has slammed critics who have labelled Australia an ageing squad in decline, claiming they should get behind their national team instead of "bagging" them.
The 32-year-old attacking midfielder put in an impressive shift in Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Japan in Brisbane, where he was busy throughout up front for the Socceroos.
After a first half full of chances, including a one-on-one where Cahill was denied by Eiji Kawashima, Japan went ahead through Yuzo Kurihara before Luke Wilkshire's controversial 69th-minute penalty earned the hosts a share of the spoils.
Speaking to Fox Sports after the game, Cahill hit back at critics who had written off the Socceroos ahead of the clash.
“I'm bored of listening to that sort of stuff. We play for our country because we love it, we don't play to get bagged. They should support football and stop bagging us,” Cahill said.
The Everton man was also disappointed with the performance of referee Khalil Al Ghamdi, who sent off Mark Milligan early in the second half.
Al Ghamdi also made questionable calls to award Australia their equalising penalty, as well as give Yuzo Kurihara a red card, while he also blew the final whistle as Japan prepared for a free-kick deep into injury time.
“I thought some of the red cards were harsh. This is what happens in football,” Cahill said. “You'll be on the harsh end of decisions but you've got to take it and move on. We'll learn a lot from today.”
Meanwhile, Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill hailed his side's “Aussie spirit” as they fought back from a goal down with 10 men following Milligan's dismissal.
“We would've taken the draw before the game. It's been a tough two weeks, a lot of travel. It's tougher than it looks on the TV,” Neill said. “The way things went with the red card, we had to dig in and we conceded an unfortunate but as always a bit of Aussie spirit come back into play and the crowd got behind us, we could have gone on to win it.”
Neill also heaped praise on a Japan side who he believes is their best ever.
“They are a fanstic team. This is arguably the best Japanese that's ever been put out,” Neill said. “Lets give credit to our boys, playing against a very good team, we've shown that spirit, down to 10, fantastic from everybody.”