SYDNEY (Reuters) - Tim Cahill remains confident that Australia will qualify for next year's World Cup in Russia despite a run of four straight draws that has seen the side fall three points behind the leaders in their final round group.
Australia are on 10 points from six matches, three behind Saudi Arabia and Japan, and with only two teams advancing automatically to the finals, the Socceroos can ill afford to slip up at home to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.
The UAE are just a point adrift of their Sydney hosts heading into the encounter and a win for the visitors would see them leapfrog Australia and move into the third place spot that offers a route to the finals via two playoff rounds.
Cahill, however, has urged Australia supporters to remain calm with the 37-year-old attacking midfielder keen to point out that the side have won two and drawn six of their matches so far, and have a formidable home record.
"We went months and months without winning a game before we lifted the 2015 Asian Cup," Cahill told reporters.
"I understand the process a bit better than some people. I'm a lot more educated as a player and as a person. I'm quite calm. We're undefeated and I won't be flinching much now."
Australia have lost just one home qualifier in 56 matches dating back to 1981, a 1-0 defeat to China in a dead rubber nine years ago, a record that fills the former Millwall and Everton player with plenty of belief.
"The way we play and the damage we've caused teams in the past... we're really going to put them under a lot of pressure," he said.
"It's a very intimidating place for them to come. It will be difficult for them and that's life.
"(But the home record) means nothing. All that matters is this week."
Cahill scored the winner off the bench in the reverse fixture in Abu Dhabi last September and he has no issues with the likely prospect of starting next week's fixture among Ange Postecoglou's substitutes once more.
"When asked, I'm always ready to contribute," he added. "The boss knows what's right for us."
(Reporting by John O'Brien in Singapore; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)