Fit and firing Juric aiming high with Socceroos

Recalled Australia striker Tomi Juric is up for the challenge of ultimately replacing veteran national team spearhead Tim Cahill, insisting "I'm not afraid to say that I am confident I can make an impact with the national team".


Tomi Juric is playing regularly for Luzern Source: Getty Images

Swiss-based Juric, who has scored two goals in 16 appearances for the Socceroos, is on a run of five consecutive club appearances heading into camp for next month’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Iraq and UAE – and admits that continuity and maintaining peak fitness levels hold the key to his future with the national team.

While the 25 year-old’s talent is undisputed, injuries have hampered his progress for club and country in recent seasons.

However, a new finely-tuned Juric has emerged since signing for Markus Babbel's Luzern, for whom he has struck twice in eight games across all competitions, and is already a mainstay up front.


Competing with the likes of Apostolos Giannou for the privilege of filling the void once Cahill finally departs the international stage, Juric said: "The opportunities are coming around steadily with the national tam … if I am playing well for my club, I am not afraid to say that I am pretty confident I can make an impact with the national team.

"But if you are not fit and not playing well, and your body is not in the right shape, then it’s hard to make an impression.

"Timmy has proved so much over the years and is still going strong …he’s kept his body in top condition and that’s what giving him the opportunity to keep playing well and doing his job.

"For me, it’s game-by-game, camp-by-camp and slowly I might be able to see some more self-improvement, which would be really nice.

"I know I have the ability … it’s up to me to keep my body strong."

Blessed with delicate touch and renewed hunger to squeeze every last drop from his abundant talent, Juric is grateful for the faith shown in him by Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou, even at times when he has been struggling for match fitness.

"When you have the coach's backing it always gives you that extra bit of self-belief to go the extra mile and give that little bit extra of yourself … especially with the national team," said the former Adelaide United and Western Sydney Wanderers marksman.

"You don’t want to leave any gas in the tank. Ange says to us time and again 'you never know it may be your last camp, so make sure you give anything you can' and that's what I try to do every time.

"I am happy that Ange shows faith in me to recall me, time and again, even though on occasions my fitness levels have not been up to scratch to a level where I should be, or where I can get to.

"There have been a few times where I have come in (being) in good shape and a few where I have not been in great condition, but he has stuck with me.

"Everybody says how special it is to pull on the green and gold and they are not lying ... It’s a fantastic feeling. Win, lose or draw you always relish pulling on that shirt."

Juric, whose Luzern side are flying in second in the Swiss Super League after five rounds, views the games against Iraq in Perth on 1 September, and the duel against UAE in Abu Dhabi six days later, as perfect opportunities to ramp it up on the road to Russia.

"We are going to try and hit the ground running, win these games and hopefully score as many goals as we can because goal difference will help us as well," Juric said.

"Friendlies or qualifiers, the Socceroos always give 120 per cent and this will be no different. I think we are known for that. It will be two good tests for us."

Juric is not expected in camp until possibly as late as 48 hours before kick-off after the weekend game away to St Gallen.

"I have played five games back-to-back and I haven’t done that for a while," he said.

"My goal is all about fitness. So far I am going okay and that’s positive for me.

"I’ve been playing fairly well … and the team is doing well, other than going out in the Europa League against Sassuolo.

"We are aiming for the top spot in the league. We know it will be very difficult, but we will give it a crack."

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4 min read
Published 26 August 2016 at 11:37am
By Dave Lewis