Kuala Lumpur: Australia striker Tomi Juric believes Asia’s reigning champions are fully focused on the task in hand ahead of the upcoming FIFA 2018 World Cup third round qualifiers against Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.
Following November’s surprise 2-2 draw with Thailand, the 2015 AFC Asian Cup winners currently find themselves occupying third spot in Group B, just one point behind table-topping Saudi Arabia and second-placed Japan.
With only the top two teams assured of reaching Russia 2018, Juric insists the Socceroos have learned from the game in Bangkok, and are ready to grab the opportunities that come their way over the course of the next two games.
"That result [against Thailand] didn't sit right for us and we've put it behind us now and will make sure the things that happened there don't happen again,” Juric, who has been earning rave reviews whilst playing for club side Luzern in Switzerland, told SBS.
"These are huge games for us and we have some catching up to do. We are pushing for that first place. We don't just want to qualify, we want to do it with some respect.
"A lot of the boys have put in some good minutes in recent weeks and we'll be raring to go."
Despite the intense nature of World Cup qualification, Juric is adamant that the process is only serving to make Australia a more formidable unit.
"We've become more consistent in the way we play - as we go along in this qualification process the opposition gets better and that's a challenge for us to keep improving also," the 25-year-old Sydney native declared.
"Hopefully, we do qualify for the World Cup, and I believe we will, but there won't be one easy game to get there.
"We are improving, for sure, and the squad has been broadened, which means we don't depend just on a core group of players like maybe used to be the case back in the day."