Ono tips former teammate Juric to be Socceroos' biggest threat in Japan

Former Western Sydney star Shinji Ono has singled out his former Wanderers teammate Tomi Juric as the Socceroos' biggest threat against Japan.

Tomi Juric

Tomi Juric (L) and Shinji Ono playing for Western Sydney in 2013 Source: Getty Images

Australia take on Japan in a crucial World Cup qualifier in Saitama on Thursday and must come away with at least a point to keep their hopes of automatic qualification alive.

Ono, who was a fan favourite in his two seasons with the Wanderers, has been playing with J-League side Consadole Sapporo since leaving the A-League in 2014.

The Japanese midfielder, who has 56 caps for the Samurai Blue under his belt, says he'll be watching the Socceroos, Japan clash with interest and feels Juric could be the key for Australia.

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“I think that Australia share a great rivalry with Japan, so it won’t be an easy game for the Samurai Blue,” Ono told the-afc.com.

“My ex-teammate Tomi Juric will cause trouble for the Japanese defenders.

“He is that kind of player that our defence is simply not used to facing in the J.League and that could prove difficult for them.”



For the hosts, the 37-year-old Ono feels that SD Eibar midfielder Takashi Inui, who has been included in Japan’s 27-man provisional squad, could be someone to inject fresh impetus to the side.

“Although I don’t know who’ll be in the final selection for Japan yet, Takashi Inui is playing well for his Spanish club at the moment,” added Ono.

“If Inui can transition this form to the national team, it could help bring something positive to the team.

“Although there are some injuries among the Japan team, I am confident that the best available players will play.”

Ono featured for Japan at three World Cups (1998, 2002, and 2006) and admitted he would be surprised if his country, who have qualified for five consecutive FIFA World Cups, miss out on the 2018 showpiece in Russia.

Japan currently sit top of the Group B table, just one point ahead of both Australia and Saudi Arabia who are level on 16 points.

“I guess it means that the standard of Asian football is getting higher, so I might be surprised but that is the truth,” he said.

“As a Japanese, though, I support Japanese players, and I believe that they can qualify to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.”


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Published 29 August 2017 at 10:21am
Source: SBS The World Game