Australia’s potential last-16 clash with Croatia would be a fitting occasion given several of the Socceroos players’ heritage, striker Tomi Juric said on Sunday.
After a defeat and a draw in their first two World Cup games, Australia need to win against Peru in Sochi and hope France do them a favour by defeating Denmark, who go into the contest second.
Peru are already out of the competition and have only pride to play for after losing both of their first two games.
Should Australia succeed in reaching the last 16, Croatia appear their most likely opponents.
And it would be a popular tie in the Australia camp considering Mile Jedinak, Daniel Vukovic, Matthew Jurman and Juric all have Croatian roots, as many Australian people do.
“It would be a nice occasion,” said the forward, who started his professional career in Croatia.
Tomi Juric wasn’t hiding from the fact it’d be “a nice occasion” for #AUS to play #CRO in the next round, what with many #AUS players’ heritage. Jedinak hopes he can give fans another chance to sing the Jedinak song against #PER on Tuesday. #WorldCup @OmnisportNews pic.twitter.com/uUEmuqCnrW
— Ryan Benson (@RyanRyanBenson) June 24, 2018
“At this point in the stage we can’t talk about it as it’s quite far away from us with this game in front of us. That’s the next important game and the result is crucial for us.”
But given this is Peru’s first World Cup since 1982, Jedinak is expecting them to want to go out on a high, with the captain predicting the encounter will be even tougher than their France and Denmark fixtures.
“I’ve no doubt they’ll give it a go,” Jedinak told reporters at Australia’s Kazan base on Sunday.
“They’ve not been on this stage for a long time. To think they won’t care or be disillusioned I think is wrong.
“We expect a tough game and it’s one they’ll want to win. We’ll need to be focused, maybe more so than in the last games. We’ll need a big effort to get the job done against them.”
Although there remains a significant final step for Australia to take, Jedinak cannot help but think about what would be a “huge achievement” in reaching the knockout phase.
“It’d be a huge achievement for us and this team, this group of players,” he said.
“Everyone knows the journey we’ve been on over the last four years to get to this point and how we’ve grown, matured as a group.
“We’ve brought some players through, had some ups and downs, and everyone has come out of it for the better, as you can see in the performances of late.
“We’ve got to try everything we can to get there and we’ll need a little luck.”
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