Western Sydney Wanderers FC striker Tomi Juric can be Australia’s X-Factor at next month’s Asian Cup, according to two former Socceroos greats.
Juric was on Tuesday named as one of seven Hyundai A-League players in Ange Postecoglou’s 23-man squad for next month’s AFC Asian Cup.
With the exception of ageless talisman Tim Cahill, the Socceroos have struggled to find goals from other avenues over the last 12 months but both John Aloisi and Ned Zelic believe Juric can help ease the burden.
While Cahill will undoubtedly be Postecoglou’s first-choice to lead the attack, Aloisi says the in-form Wanderers attacker is the perfect back-up to Australia’s greatest-ever goal-scorer.
“You have to understand it will be potentially six games so Timmy (Cahill) might not be able to play six, 90 minute games,” ex-Socceroo striker Aloisi told www.socceroos.com.au.
“You might need other players to step in so I’m sure Tomi Juric will get a chance to play.
“He’s been selected in the past and he’s shown in the ACL with his size and ability on the ball he can cause problems.
“I think he can do really well, especially with the way Ange likes his teams to play, he can be important for us.”
Given the difficulty many Asian teams have found in combating the aerial prowess of Cahill, there has been some suggestions Postecoglou may play both Juric and the 35-year-old in a powerful front two.
Zelic doesn’t subscribe to that theory but views 23-year-old Juric as the ideal impact player off the bench.
“There’s room for both (Cahill and Juric to play) but I don’t think Ange will start that way,” said Zelic.
“You’ve got the advantage of having someone like Juric who for me is a real killer in the box.
“You can throw him in for 20 minutes at the end and he’s got that hunger to get on the end of the balls that come in. It’s a big thing for Ange and he can be a real weapon for us I think.”
The Socceroos will start flying into Australia in coming days before the majority of the squad goes into camp in Melbourne next week.
Despite a difficult year with results – and a ranking that has slumped to 100 – Aloisi still believes the Socceroos along with Japan are the sides to beat.
But the man whose penalty sealed Australia’s berth at the 2006 World Cup believes this could be the most open tournament yet.
“You can never rule out anyone. We saw that in 2007 when we went to the Asian Cup for the first time,” said Aloisi.
“All these teams are normally well-organised and can catch you on the counter.
“Iran will be good definitely, Korea (Republic) will be good as well. People are talking about Qatar now they won the Gulf Cup, they will come with confidence and they also beat us in a recent friendly.
“There’s a lot of good sides but when it gets to the final I still think it will be between us, Japan and maybe Iran.”
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