Tim Cahill thinks the Socceroos’ next generation are a nice team lacking natural leaders compared to the “men and attitude” of his era.

The Australian soccer great is optimistic ahead of November’s World Cup in Qatar, despite the Socceroos’ stiff task against defending champions France, Denmark and Tunisia.

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And Australia’s all-time leading goalscorer, who netted five goals in three consecutive finals campaigns before being scarcely used in a fourth, says he’ll be involved with the team in some capacity given he now calls Doha home.

But the 42-year-old couldn’t help but hark back to the good old days when asked who he saw as the current squad’s spiritual leader.

“You don’t have your natural leaders like you had in the past,” he said.

“Lucas Neill, Mile Jedinak, (Tony) Popovic, (Kevin) Muscat … it was different; there were a lot of men, there was an attitude.”

Goalkeeper Maty Ryan is captain of Graham Arnold’s side, while Mat Leckie, Aaron Mooy, Jackson Irvine, Trent Sainsbury and Aziz Behich all have at least 49 Socceroos caps.

“They have a group they rely on a lot and Arnie’s big on it,” Cahill, who was in camp when the team qualified in Qatar in June, said.

The Socceroos will participate at a fifth consecutive World Cup when they take part in Qatar. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

“Maty I’m really close with. Observing the leadership group, it was really, really interesting to see the dynamic.

“It was a nice leadership group. Football is nice now.

“The old school with us; we were more actions, silent leaders.”

Cahill’s 2006 squad held their own against the best in the world, cruelly denied a quarter-final berth by a controversial penalty against Italy in the round of 16.

Tim Cahill ahead of his final match with the Socceroos in 2018. Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

“I don’t know what the right approach is (now); there’s loads of nice football teams but it then comes down to the manager and how he manages the cultures and expectations,” Cahill said.

Arnold sees his point but doesn’t agree.

“A lot of kids these days don’t get brought up a hard way, they get brought up a softer way,” he said.

“Not at all (are they too nice); (as a coach) you see the good side and bad side of every person.

“They showed me they’ve got it (in Cup qualifying wins) against the UAE and Peru … that they have that side of them.”

Arnold scored 19 goals for his country and played more than 450 club games between 1980-2000 in Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Japan, before beginning a coaching career that took him to the 2006 World Cup as Guus Hiddink’s assistant.

“Everyone still in Australia talks about the golden generation, golden generation,” he said.

“I hate comparing generations. But we have got some good kids.”

Those kids put their hands up in the Socceroos’ 2-0 defeat of New Zealand in Auckland on Sunday, 18-year-old Garang Kuol and Jason Cummings impressive in cameos off the bench.

Cahill is confident Australia has the weapons and strategy needed to progress out of a tough group.

But he said it was up to Arnold to select and then use his cattle appropriately after they “sat behind the ball and watched the game pass us by” under short-term coach Bert Van Marwijk in Russia four years ago.

Jack Graham meets Ken Hinkley as Port up ante for flag Tiger.

Jack Graham meets Ken Hinkley as Port up ante for flag Tiger.