Socceroos coach Graham Arnold never planned for Tim Cahill to get more than a cameo in his farewell appearance.
Still, the reaction to his 10-minute stint suggested the fans wanted to see more of the nation’s greatest goalscorer.
Even former Socceroos captain Paul Wade was disappointed.
“Cahill didn’t get enough time and the Socceroos have been rubbish in this second half. I’d want my money back. I haven’t been this mad in a long time,” he said on ABC radio.
Yet beyond the fact that there’s an Asian Cup in January for the new coach to plan for, there was another reason why Cahill might’ve been held back.
The 37-year-old had just one chance to score in the 3-0 win over Lebanon but a cross by Mathew Leckie fell short and was cleared away.
“I thought he (the defender) misjudged it and I thought this is just going to be a nice little tap-in to the bottom left-hand corner,” Cahill said.
“I said to Lecks just hang it. I felt my left ankle yesterday in training and it was a little iffy, so jumping on it – I could only jump off my right.
“I thought it was there but it’s just nice to touch the ball, it’s my last ever game. I feel like I’m in dream world.”
So while the chances dried up as Cahill got on the park, his appearance really was more about being there and saying thank you.
That might be a positive sign for the Socceroos’ future, too.
Speed and mobility are key to Arnold’s preference for fielding three forwards, a further step away from Australia’s reliance on Cahill.
“Pace is a killer,” the coach said after the game.
“It’s not easy when you play a team that plays a back five and plays so deep, the space is less.
“But I thought some of the combination play, the runs in behind was excellent and the finishing will come.”
Arnold handed starting debuts to Awer Mabil, Mustafa Amini and Martin Boyle, while Rhyan Grant and James Jeggo received their first caps.
The Scottish-born import Boyle, whose dad was born in Sydney, was the pick of the bunch as he scored twice and recorded an assist.
“We look all over the world for players. When I went to Hibs to see Mark Milligan and Jamie Maclaren and I spent a day there and watching (Boyle) train, it was no-brainer,” Arnold said.
“To be honest, I didn’t have to work too hard to convince him to play for Australia. He was very keen to do it and he’s fit into the group so well.”