Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said evergreen striker Tim Cahill could play all the way to the next World Cup as the goals keep coming for the 35-year-old.
The newly crowned Asian coach of the year said retirement was not on the cards for Australia`s record scorer, who struck three this month against Bangladesh to reach 45 international goals.
"The way he`s going at the moment, yeah," Postecoglou said late on Sunday at the Asian Football Confederation awards, when asked if Cahill could figure at Russia 2018.
"He can`t stop scoring goals and if he keeps scoring goals he`ll keep getting picked. He`s been fantastic for us. We`ve got a very young group so his experience is pretty important at the moment and he`s still playing very well."
The ex-Everton and New York Red Bulls forward, now with Shanghai Shenhua, will be pushing 39 if he makes it to the 2018 World Cup but he remains a key man for Australia.
Cahill`s goals helped Australia win their maiden Asian Cup title in January, and he is also at the forefront of their qualifying drive to reach a fourth straight World Cup.
"I`m just enjoying him scoring goals for us at the moment. I`ll think about him moving on when the time is right," Postecoglou said, in response to questions from AFP.
"At the moment I think he`s still performing very very well for us and he`s a massive contributor. We`ve got some young players coming through who we know will help us get to the next level but we`re certainly not going to push Timmy into retirement while he`s playing the way he is."
Postecoglou was speaking after picking up the gong for coach of the year at a Bollywood-inspired ceremony near New Delhi, after leading the Socceroos to the Asian Cup title in January.
He said Australia now needed to lift their sights higher -- with the focus first on reaching the next World Cup, and then making a deep run.
"First goal obviously is to challenge for the next World Cup but also to make an impact," Postecoglou said.
"I think as a nation now we`ve qualified for the last three, that`s not enough for us any more. We`ve got to go to a World Cup and really make an impact.
"I`m on record as saying at some point the European and South American dominance of the World Cup needs to be broken and I think Asia`s a continent that`s capable of doing that."