25-goal target for Balestier marquee signing Ljubojevic

The 31-year-old former Croatia Under-21 international has been brought in by the Tigers as they aim to challenge for the title in the upcoming 2014 S.League season
When Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic declared to the media during the club's pre-season press conference that 25 goals would be a "fair" return for his new striker, Goran Ljubosevic's surprise was clear to see.

Brought in as the Tigers' first-ever marquee signing, it is clear that expectations are high for the 31-year-old former Croatia Under-21 international. Club chairman Thavaneson Selvaratnam declared the club's intention to challenge for the S.League title this coming season on Tuesday afternoon at Jalan Besar Stadium, with Ljubosevic also being officially unveiled at the event.

The man himself preferred to play down the hype, stating that the team's achievements would be more important.

"If you ask me whether I’d like to score five, ten goals and be champions, or if I would like to score 25 goals and be fourth or fifth in the league, I would choose the first one because I am a team player and I would like to win some championships," Ljubosevic said.

"So for me, the goal is to try to be the best for the team, to be in the top three clubs at least."

Having spent time at Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb in his younger days and scored in the Champions League for them, the Osijek native's quality is not in doubt. But after suffering from injuries that derailed his career as a promising youngster, Ljubosevic hopes to put those troubles behind him on his first foreign foray.

"I am very confident (of doing well) but the problem is not my confidence, the problem is just to stay healthy," he explained.

"I’ve had lots of injuries, bad injuries that put my career back when I was playing very well in the really big teams. But a knee surgery when I was 24 took me down, so I've struggled in the last three or four years to find a club that is going to play attacking football. I'm hoping that now I’ve found it and if I’ve found it, Its all up to me to perform."

Kraljevic, who Ljubosevic revealed was a big reason behind him joining the club, is in no doubt about the player's quality.

"I tell you something, playing for Dinamo Zagreb is something [big] in Croatia," the 48-year-old said.

"He played with Eduardo and [Vedran] Corluka. He was a little bit injured and had no luck. He should be somewhere in the English leagues, this is my opinion. I think he will surprise [people this season]."

Kraljevic also asserted that his side would have to play attacking football so as to give Ljubosevic the service he needs to perform. It is a sentiment the striker, who was signed from NK Osijek, agrees with.

"I am a type of player that depends a lot on the team," he said.

"In the last three, four years, I was playing in clubs that were struggling to stay in the league so they were mostly playing defensively.... so I could not show my qualities because I was too far from the goal.

"I hope that this club will not stay behind, that we are going to press forward and we will have a lot of chances to score."

Describing his new signing as "silky", Thava is confident Ljubosevic will shine.

"Statistics and history prove that players from the Balkans have been the most successful foreign players in the S.League," he said, citing the examples of Aleksandar Duric and Mustafic Fahrudin.

"We’ve done our homework and I think we are going to put up a performance that will excite fans, media and the general public."

Ljubosevic is in no doubt what he has to do to when the season starts.

"The problem with a striker is that they don’t look at you, they don’t respect you until you start scoring," he said.

"So first of all, I have to prove myself to be a good striker, then I can try to help the team."