One of the Socceroos’ biggest concern today is that Tim Cahill, aged 37, is still the team’s main scoring threat. However, striker Tomi Juric said on Monday that he is ready to step up and become Cahill’s successor.
“I quite enjoy when people say ‘you need to step up’,” Juric told reporters in Adelaide on Monday, ahead of Thursday’s World Cup qualifier match against Saudi Arabia. “It’s the only way to raise your game to another level.”
Juric has scored only four goals in 22 Socceroos games, but expectations of the 25-year-old’s performance have increased since he took FC Luzern to the Europa League with four goals in the team’s last five matches.
Furthermore, the Switzerland-based striker said his performance and work rate have grown in the recent months.
“I am really happy with the way it’s gone, especially these last couple of months,” said Juric. “Looking at my stats, I played 30-35 games this year and I haven’t done that in a season in my career. That’s really one big plus for me. My stats in my numbers for running in each game, you could compare them to a pretty high level of football. I have improved in that aspect.
“These last few months, I really bought into how the coach has been telling me just to stay consistent. I have had one or two off games this second half of the season. I feel I have really been able to help the team a fair bit up front.”
In their recent matches, the Socceroos relied on goals coming from set pieces or penalties, but Juric saw it in a more positive light.
“From the outside you would think something like that,” Juric said on Monday. “But I don’t really feel pressure because if we didn’t have any goals around the whole park, left wing, right wing, centre backs, whatever, then it would put a lot of pressure on me.
“But I know I need to be scoring. It’s down to the whole mentality of how you approach things.”
Australia currently sits at third in Group B, three points behind Japan and Saudi Arabia. To get to the finals in Russia next year, the Socceroos need to be in the top two spots.