Tomi Juric or Josh Kennedy? This could very well be the scenario confronting Socceroos manager Ange Postecoglou.
Does he choose the veteran hero Josh Kennedy, our Saviour who once had the hair to match, whose divine head sent the Socceroos to the World Cup? Or does he choose Tomi Juric, the young Colossus of Western Sydney?
With Postecoglous’s historic reluctance to play big strapping centre forwards, chances are only one of the two strikers will get a seat on the flying kangaroo to Brazil. His time at Victory first saw his No.9 become false and then he did away with them altogether, as he opted for double No. 10s, before Frank Lowy came calling with the Socceroos gig.
Like a Buddhist mantra we have been reminded again and again that the Socceroos have been dealt a very, very difficult group.
With three technically superior teams to face, Postecoglou will be setting his teams up to press in the right areas and to counter-attack with speed. Which is why strikers like Mathew Leckie, the FSV Frankurt speedster, are on Postecoglou’s radar.
However, there will surely be room in the squad for one tall striker. Someone who could play with his back to goal, shield the ball, bring his midfielders into play, pose an aerial threat, and most importantly be able to shoot (farken).
Tomi Juric’s royal variety comeback performance from injury last night set more tails wagging than from all the happy pooches at a Sydney Royal Dog Show. Not only did he score with a fabulous scissor kick, he also attracted the Central Coast Mariners midfield like moths to a flame to create the space for the Wanderers well worked second goal.
He strode around the pitch like a cocky football Colossus, doing all the things a classic centre-forward is supposed to do.
Following Juric’s football career has been akin to watching an Attenborough wildlife documentary. At Adelaide United he was the young clumsy, excitable beast always attempting the ways of his senior striking peers but almost always coming unstuck. Under the guidance of Popovic at Western Sydney, he has matured to the point where he can almost call himself King Of The A-League Mountain. Like Kosciuszko, it’s not a particularly big mountain, he’ll need to go overseas one day to attempt bigger peaks.
In the meantime, there is a guaranteed start for the Wanderers in the lead-up to the World Cup with more chances to impress his growing legion of fans and more importantly, Postecoglou.
In a way, Juric is the hybrid of Mark Viduka and Kennedy. He will never have the balletic grace of Viduka but he is more technically gifted than Josh Kennedy. And while he does not quite possess Kennedy’s height or heading ability, he has also demonstrated a growing aptitude in the aerial department.
Viduka would have been 22 and leading the line at France 98 if not for that ill-fated night at the MCG. Juric will also be 22 (older by a few months) come Brazil 2014.
Juric might not possess the precocious talent of the Socceroos greatest ever centre forward, but if becomes three quarters the player Viduka ever was then a long Socceroos career beckons.
Football fans were quick to place Josh Kennedy atop Rio’s Corcovado mountain. The lofty vantage point could very well end up being the place he watches the Socceroos from in Brazil.