We're making it tough but we'll be in Russia, declares Juric

Socceroos striker Tomi Juric has ordained 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification as a near certainty for Australia, but admits they are making a habit of "doing things the hard way" as their date with fate looms.

Tomi Juric

Tomi Juric celebrates after scoring for the Socceroos Source: AAP

With six goals in 11 games so far this season for Swiss club Luzern, how Ange Postecoglou would welcome Juric continuing that form to give the Socceroos the upper hand in Thursday's first leg of their Russia 2018 play-off against Syria in neutral Malacca.

The return leg is in Sydney five days later.

"I don't know why it is but us Aussies always seem to like the hard road for some reason," Juric said.

"For me, the most difficult thing I've faced so far in my international career - and I think that might also apply to some of the rest of the boys - was missing out on qualifying directly.

"To miss out on goal difference hurt, especially when we created the chances to win maybe 10-1 (but could only manage 2-1) against Thailand.

"But we have to get over it and get the job done now ... it's that simple.

"Tough moments tend to bring out the best in people and these next few months - starting obviously with this next camp - is going to make us or break us. 

"We have to crunch down on these little things that we have not been doing well.

"We're a nation where challenging situations tend to bring out the best in us and I have no doubts doubts that we will come out on top."

Only a spot-kick miss denied Juric a hat-trick 10 days ago in the 3-2 home loss to Lausanne, and his few found club consistency will be key for Australia against Syria and - assuming they progress - the fourth placed team from CONCACAF in a deciding inter-continental play-off.

"It's nice to be scoring goals ... I set high standards for myself," he said.

"I've been playing well and that's good and also regularly, which is most in important.

"I need to take all this into the camp against Syria."

There were a number of offers from German clubs for Juric during the transfer window, but none of them matched up to the valuation set by Luzern for one of their prize assets.

However, Juric will be off contract at the end of the season, and could even move elsewhere in January as he nurtures the dream of playing in one of Europe's leading leagues.

"It's a sticky situation regarding my contract and things like that," Juric said.

"I will have to sit down with the club and have a chat with them about their ambitions because we aren't doing too well at this moment in time.

"We will figure out what's next but at the minimum I'll be there until January and very possibly until the end of the season.

"A few things popped up in the window but the club counts on me a fair bit and was not happy to let me go for what they regarded as small money.

"They wanted a hefty fee and that made it all a little difficult.

"The big thing for me is to be playing regularly in a World Cup year and I believe that we're going to be there."

Juric will have no qualms over queries over the system employed by Postecoglou against Syria, whether he sticks with 3-2-4-1 or reverts to 4-3-3 to make better use of attacking weapons like Mathew Leckie.

"Sometimes we change to a back three at my club," he said.

"To be honest, it doesn't really bother me and I feel it gives a bit more scope to take advantage of the midfield talent we have in the squad.

"It is a tough gig for our wing-backs to be up and down all the time but that's where I think our midfield really comes into play.

"I know the formation has come under a bit of scrutiny but I don't see it as being a problem for us.

"There may be a problem for the people outside, because they don't really know what's going on inside the camp."

Had Australia swept Thailand away and leapfrogged Saudi Arabia on goal difference - as they should have done on the chances created - Juric believes the critics would have melted away.

"We are on this hard road now but I don't think the formation is to blame for that," Juric said.

"The fact that we haven't qualified directly has brought all this under the microscope."

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5 min read
Published 3 October 2017 at 7:34pm
By Dave Lewis