Juric refreshed and keen for Syria rematch

It's been a long time since striker Tomi Juric has experienced conditions quite like those the Socceroos endured in Malaysia.

 

The choppy cow-grass pitch was only half the concern in hot and sticky Malacca, where Australia fought out a contentious 1-1 World Cup play-off draw with Syria.

Temperatures hovered just under 30 degrees during the game but the humidity factor exacerbated the "terrible" environment for the players, who described feeling out of breath during the warm-up.

"People don't understand how difficult it is to play in," Juric said.

Juric ready for crunch match. Pic: Getty

"All right, it wasn't that hot, but it was so humid. I haven't played in a game like that for so long.

"Maybe the game with the Wanderers against Evergrande in Guangzhou, that was probably the most humid I've played in, and this was close to it.

"The pitch wasn't the greatest condition either, it was like a cabbage patch."

By halftime, Juric had rattled the post twice within two seconds and was physically spent.

"I came in and feeling like ... I can't even say what."

But the 26-year-old battled on until the 83rd minute when coach Ange Postecoglou subbed him off for Tom Rogic.

Two days, one charter flight and two recovery sessions later and Juric feels refreshed and raring to go again in Tuesday night's second leg at ANZ Stadium.

There are the standard niggles that come with being a No.9, but nothing the regular FC Luzern starter says he can't shake off to help Australia reach a final play-off against the fourth-placed CONCACAF nation, likely Panama or Honduras.

Whether Postecoglou decides to stick with Juric or start veteran Tim Cahill to set the physical tone early is conjecture until matchday.

Either way, Juric felt the Socceroos were in a superior mental and physical space than their war-ravaged adversaries, who arrived five hours later on Friday in economy class.

With that in mind, the plan was simple: score and win.

"I don't think that patience is the most important thing," Jurica said.

"The most important thing for us is to keep that ball moving and tire them out.

"We have some fresh legs coming in now. They are going to struggle to deal with that and I don't think they have the depth in the squad that we do.

"Our subs will come on also and make a difference for us."

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