Evergreen Australia striker Tim Cahill is ready for "the big dance" as he attempts to waltz into World Cup folklore.
Cahill could join Brazil legend Pele and former Germany strikers Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler as the only players to have scored at four World Cups should he get on the scoresheet in Russia.
The 38-year-old is more of a squad player nowadays after previously being the fulcrum of a Socceroos side that continues to grow on the global stage.
But he has shelved all talk of international retirement until after the tournament.
Speaking ahead of Australia's Group C opener against France on Saturday, he told a news conference: "It's not a dress rehearsal, the big dance is here. This is where you have to step up.
"The fact is we train today, we train the day after, and we play France. That's all that's in my mind."
As for joining Pele, Klose and Seeler, he added: "I have put in so much effort to be here. To get on the pitch would be one step, to score would just be amazing. To join the list of names that are on there now would be priceless.
"You have to take your moments. If I get on the pitch I know I am going to try to make something happen.
"I would love to join the greats, being an Australian, being someone who has broken all barriers."
While Cahill is at one end of his career, the France side that will take the field in Kazan will feature some of the game's greatest young talents, led by Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele.
The development of Les Bleus under Didier Deschamps has been gradual – defeat on home soil to Portugal in the European Championship final two years ago remains an open wound – and their time may not come here in Russia, rather in Qatar in 2022.
But French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet is encouraged by the emergence of a new, zestful side which appears to be shorn of the cliques that have ravaged previous generations.
Le Graet said: "When you look at the number of young players we have, we can consider this to be a good France team.
"And when you see Mbappe answering the media's questions with an implausible maturity, it's extraordinary.
"When the players are with the national team they behave in an exemplary way. The change is clear. Deschamps has put a lot of effort into making the conditions ideal."
Mbappe sustained a knock in training on Tuesday, but declared himself "100 per cent fit" 24 hours later and is likely to lead the line.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
France – Antoine Griezmann
The Atletico Madrid striker continues to be linked with a close-season switch to Barcelona, but his focus will be on firing Les Bleus to World Cup glory before considering his club future.
A key component of Atleti's Europa League triumph – he scored twice in the 3-0 final defeat of Marseille – Griezmann will be the likely beneficiary of France's lightning-fast counter attacks.
Australia – Aaron Mooy
While Cahill may be the household name, it's Huddersfield Town midfielder Mooy who sets the tempo in the Australia midfield.
Clever with his distribution, the 27-year-old also chipped in four goals and three assists as the Terriers avoided relegation from the Premier League last season.
KEY OPTA FACTS
- The record between France and Australia on neutral ground is perfectly balanced with a 1-0 win each (for France in Japan in May 1994 and for Australia in South Korea in June 2001). Their last encounter ended in a 6-0 win for Les Bleus in Paris, including a brace by Olivier Giroud.
- France have won only three of their last 12 group games (D5 L4) - against Togo, Honduras and Switzerland.
- Australia have reached the knockout stages of the World Cup on one occasion, in 2006 when they were eliminated in the last 16 by eventual winners Italy.
- Australia have won only two of their 13 games at the World Cup, against Japan in 2006 (3-1) and Serbia in 2010 (2-1), and kept only one clean sheet (0-0 v Chile, 1974).
- Bert van Marwijk will lead the Socceroos at the tournament after guiding Saudi Arabia to the 2018 World Cup.
21 de agosto 2018
|Championship Review: Leeds go top, QPR problems mount|
|Ronaldo shares snap of ´Juventus family´|
|Aguero is the Premier League´s best foreign import, says Shearer|
|Real Madrid warned they must pay Rodrigo´s €120m release clause|
|England´s Broad fined for Pant rant|
|India on brink of victory after brilliant Bumrah halts Buttler|
|Serena Williams elevated to 17th seed at US Open|
|Kombouare signs new two-year Guingamp contract|
|Scaloni unclear on Messi´s long-term Argentina plans|
|F1 Raceweek: Gasly and Alonso restore focus at Spa|
|Nouri able to communicate, brother reveals|
|Pjanic extends Juventus contract to 2023|
|Odegaard joins Vitesse in latest loan from Real Madrid|
|Luck ´sort of happy´ with sack from Suggs|
|Manchester United´s Sanchez will ´be back soon´|
|Former Giants star Cruz announces retirement|
|RFU set Cipriani disciplinary date despite RPA complaints|
|Spalletti fined €10,000 for ´gravely offensive´ referee comments|
|IndyCar driver Wickens has spinal surgery after Pocono crash|
|Tiger: No doubt this is one of my best years|
|Vice-captain Tiger trying to remain objective in Ryder Cup conversations|
|Ronaldo won´t win Serie A by himself, warns Allan|
|Moeen sends message to England selectors with double century|
|Brunt calls time on Northern Ireland career|
|Tottenham´s Janssen sidelined after foot surgery|
|Liu Xiang breaks women´s 50m backstroke world record at Asian Games|
|Atletico Madrid winger Vitolo suffers knee ligament damage|
|Leverkusen teen Havertz aiming to emulate idol Ozil|
|Beckham to be honoured with UEFA President´s Award|
|CPS drops Hillsborough charges against Bettison|
|Who can take over from Federer, Nadal & Djokovic? Agassi backs Zverev, Kyrgios|
|´Freak incident´ rules Dragons´ Vaughan out for season|
|Kompany: Different Manchester City must not be complacent|
|Toyota withdraw appeal over Alonso´s Silverstone disqualification|
|Manchester City offload defender Denayer to Lyon|
|RPA want RFU to drop Cipriani charge|
|Cheika still the right man for Australia - Polota-Nau|
|Bolt not giving up on Manchester United dream|
|All Blacks must improve ´average´ set-piece, says Smith|
|Raiola hits back at Scholes following Pogba criticism|
|Indians top Red Sox in series opener|
|Struff stuns Cecchinato, Jarry reaches last 16|
|I´ll prove people wrong - Bolt completes first Mariners training session|
|Former champ Kvitova tops Radwanska, Pliskova ousted|
|Sad if it´s Filipe Luis´ last game for Atletico - Oblak|
|White Sox manager Rick Renteria hospitalised before game|
|Carragher: Van Dijk can become Liverpool legend|
|No timetable for Sale return from shoulder injury|
|This is a partnership - Rodgers on contract negotiations with Packers|
|Eagles QB Wentz unsure he´ll be cleared to play opener|
|Balotelli staying at Nice|
|It wasn´t a penalty, says Hodgson as Palace boss fumes at refereeing decisions|
|Salah can play much better - Klopp demands more from Liverpool star|
|Gasly to Red Bull: Vettel, Verstappen and the drivers who took their Toro Rosso chance|
|Klopp in the dark on Karius future amid links to Besiktas|
|Simeone pleased with draw after rigours of Super Cup|
20 de agosto 2018
|Captain Reus saves Dortmund in DFB-Pokal|
|I couldn´t care less - Klopp rejects title challenge talk|
|Ailing Bairstow keen to aid England´s unlikely victory bid at Trent Bridge|
|Redskins secure Peterson signing|
|Manchester City goalkeeper Bravo suffers ruptured Achilles|
|Crystal Palace 0 Liverpool 2: Milner and Mane secure victory at Selhurst Park|
|Whyte takes aim at ´coward´ Fury ahead of Wilder showdown|
|Jets delighted with Darnold, open to trading Bridgewater|
|Gasly to replace Ricciardo at Red Bull|
|Valencia 1 Atletico Madrid 1: Rodrigo strikes to deny Simeone´s side|
|Injured Halep withdraws from Connecticut Open|
|Cipriani fined £2,000 by Gloucester|
|Mourinho will be sacked before Christmas, says Sharpe|
|England face record chase after Kohli smashes India to huge lead|