UEL: Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan’s move to Genk continues to pay dividends.
TOMI Juric is the latest in a line of strikers aiming to be the next Tim Cahill, but the striker who is pushing him hardest for that mantle is the one still hoping to add to his record Socceroos tally.
Juric is likely to lead the line for Australia in the World Cup qualifier with Iraq on Thursday in Tehran, bolstered by three goals for his club Luzern since returning from injury.
Cahill will almost certainly be deployed from the bench, and Juric – with a return of four goals from his 20 international caps – said the friendly rivalry had an edge, with Cahill “still fighting to play”.
CAHILL: ‘My passion outweighs anyone’s’
SOCCEROOS: Troisi fit and ready for World Cup mission
“We joke around about it all the time,” Juric said. He goes, ‘Nah, I’m not doing this, it’s you’. We have a good laugh, me and him, about that kind of stuff. But he takes it very seriously when he comes in every time. Obviously he’s happy to see me progress and improve and that and he’s happy to contribute off the bench or start.
“But you see the attitude that he has and you kind of take from that as well. Sometimes we mention it every now and then but you can see he’s still here and still fighting to play.
“He’s still in great shape for his age, it’s ridiculous. It’s an unbelievable thing. I learn a lot from him as well. You don’t even have to say something, you just have to watch – you can learn a lot.”
Three-and-a-half years after his debut, Juric said he felt reasonably at home with the Socceroos – but never entirely confident of selection.
“I guess as long as I keep doing what I’m doing and improving as much as I can, I know I’ll kind of be around the frame,” he said. “You know when you come in here it’s never 100 per cent that you’re going to be in the next one. You know what the boss is like.
“I do feel comfortable and I do feel like it’s kind of coming upon me, but not in any way do I feel like I’m here now, it’s me and I’ll be here every time. It keeps you on your toes – exactly what the boss wants.”
Adding to his motivation has been a challenging season at club level, where pre-season illness and then an injury have left him playing catch-up.
“I feel good now, it’s nice to get back and score some goals,” he said. “It was a bit tough, after the injury. I had to leave pre-season a little bit early and came back, I was a little bit ill. Then it just took me a little bit of a while to get back into the groove of things. I think I missed the first few games.
“Obviously, you’re upset not to play but I just had to stick to it and trust in the coaches what they’re doing and the idea that they had. It’s not good to sit on the bench and watch – especially when you come on for like two minutes or something. I stuck to the work they were offering me and telling me to do so now I feel pretty OK. I feel like I’m in some kind of form now and hopefully I can carry on and move from here.”to it.
Originally published as Juric learning plenty from the master