Juric: Kyrgyzstan’s a mystery to ’Roos
ONE of Australia's heroes from this year's historic Asian Cup triumph, Tomi Juric, admits the Socceroos don't know much about Kyrgyzstan, but he knows the team will get a warm welcome - from the fans and the weather.
Australia has never played Kyrgyzstan before, and tonight's match will be the team's first World Cup qualifier for the 2018 tournament scheduled to be held in for Russia.
That means fans in the city of Bishkek are excited to be hosting a nation that is on the way up in world football.
"We're expecting a warm welcome. I hear there are a lot of people interested in this game," Juric said.
"Australia coming to Kyrgyzstan is the biggest thing that's happened in this country for a long time.
"It'll be exciting to see how things are going to turn out."
The match will be the first of a long World Cup qualification process for the Socceroos.
Apart from Kyrgyzstan, the team has drawn Jordan, Tajikistan and Bangladesh in its first stage of qualifiers through the Asian Football Confederation.
The group winners from the eight pools, and four best runners-up, will
advance to the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, as well as the 2019 Asian Cup finals.
Juric said he believed his Socceroo teammates were primed to get their qualification campaign on track with a big win tonight.
"There's quality throughout the whole pitch to score goals," he said.
"In the front and middle third when we go on attack we're very dangerous. And in defence we're very strong. We're not making the same mistakes we used to make."
The Socceroos, ranked No.63 in the world, have been in Dubai to prepare for the heat in Bishkek.
Kyrgyzstan is down at No.177 in the rankings.
Meanwhile the Matildas expect to have a full squad to pick from for
tomorrow morning's must-win match against Sweden at the women's World Cup in Canada.
Star striker Lisa de Vanna is expected to play despite being unable to walk on her injured ankle, while Laura Alleway (hip) and Clare Polkinghorne (hamstring) also should be available.
Australia is second in Group D on three points - with Sweden third on two points - and must either draw or win to progress to the next stage.