The Australian FA have insisted that commercial interests played no part in their final World Cup squad after Hibs striker Jamie Maclaren was controversially axed.
The forward netted eight goals in 15 games after joining Neil Lennon’s side on loan in January from German club Darmstadt, including a hat-trick in the recent 5-5 draw with Rangers at Easter Road.
Despite his sparkling form he wasn’t included in coach Bert van Marwijk’s 26-man preliminary squad.
One of the attackers included instead was Tim Cahill. With 50 goals for his nation, the former Everton man is the country’s record goalscorer. However, he failed to find the back of the net in any of the ten games while playing for Millwall in the second half of the 2017/18 English Championship season and, at 38, he is well into the twilight years of his career.
At the same time the squad was announced, Cahill was unveiled as the face of a Caltex advertising campaign in the run up to the tournament.
The company will change the name of five petrol stations in major Australian cities to ‘Cahilltex’ throughout May and June.
This led supporters to question whether Aussie football chiefs had put commercial interests ahead of football and insisted that Cahill be included in the squad.
When asked about it at a Caltex promotional event, Football Federation Australia chief David Gallop said: “Absolutely not. Have a look at Tim Cahill’s track record. He’s a guy who has produced for the Socceroos and Australia so many times.
“He’s going to Turkey, he’s got a few weeks of intense training and he’ll be right up there (for final selection).”
Van Marwijk will trim his squad from 26 for the required 23 before the start of this year’s tournament in Russia.