JOSIP JURANOVIC and Alistair Johnston will go head to head when Croatia take on Canada in their World Cup Group F encounter in Qatar tomorrow afternoon.
It promises to be an intriguing clash within a clash as the countries lock horns with a 4pm kick-off at the Khalifia International Stadium.
Celtic fans will be able to view their current right-back and the player tipped to become his successor at the champions in a January transfer window shake-up.
The Hoops have made no progress in their efforts to persuade Juranovic to sign an enhanced contract and it increasingly looks as though the 27-year-old defender is heading for the exit after being linked to teams such as Atletico Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea in recent weeks.
THOU SHALT NOT PASS…a determined Alistair Johnston stops Belgium winger Lois Openda in his tracks with a last-ditch tackle that earned the Canadian defender a yellow card.
The poised and assured No.2 cost a bargain £2.5million when he arrived from Legia Warsaw in August 2021 and he still has three and a half years to run on his existing deal.
Ange Postecoglou warned at the club’s AGM earlier this month there was every likelihood of comings and goings and, as CQN reported, he insisted he didn’t “fear losing players”.
Three who could be on the move in six weeks or so are Juranovic, Matt O’Riley, the £1.5million buy from English third-tier MK Dons in January, plus James McCarthy, who, at 32, is looking for regular game time.
Vissel Kobe central defender Yuki Kobayashi, 22, is already heading to Scotland on a five-year deal to reunite with his Japanese countrymen Kyogo Furuhashi, Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi.
END GAME…Josip Juranovic and his Croatian team-mates applaud the fans after the goalless draw in the opening World Cup match against Morocco.
Johnston has been targeted and the 24-year-old CF Montreal star has admitted he is honoured to be linked with Celtic.
Talks are understood to have been ongoing and sources in Canada claimed verbal agreements have been reached between the clubs and it is now down to meeting the defender’s personal terms, as reported in the Daily Record.
Asked about the prospect of a massive move to Parkhead, Johnston replied: “It’s an honour just being linked with them – my phone’s been blowing up!
“That nearly put my phone out of commission, halfway through a World Cup. But right now, the focus is just solely on the national team.”
The 31 times-capped No.2 cost his MLS outfit £800,000 when he switched from Nashville 11 months ago. He agreed a two-year deal with a two-year option in the summer, but it is clear his club are receptive to a transfer with his value now reported to have rocketed to £3.5million.
ON THE MOVE…Japanese central defender Yuki Kobayashi is heading for Celtic.
Johnston possesses a UK passport due to his mother’s Northern Ireland birthplace and was an impressive performer in his country’s unlucky 1-0 loss to Belgium in their opening game on Wednesday.
Thousands will be in the stadium tomorrow when he goes into action against Juranovic and Co with multiples of millions watching live on worldwide TV.
Celtic fans will be able to watch on BBC 1 as both countries go in search of their first win and first goals in the global showpiece.
Croatia were held to a goalless draw by Morocco in their opening fixture with a goal from Belgium hitman Michy Batshuayi dumping Canada.