Stirling Lions are still contenders for the National Premier Leagues WA top four and defender Jovo Pavlovic believes they are hitting their straps at the right time of the season.
Pavlovic joined the Lions this season after stints in Asia, where the 24-year-old played in the Indonesian Premier League with Mitra Kukar and the Hong Kong First Division with South China.
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“My time at both clubs was fantastic. It was a great experience that I will never forget,” he said.
“It’s always hard to leave family and friends behind and I found it hard at times but I guess it’s the sport we choose to play and have to accept and deal with leaving the people we love behind.”
At South China the defender played against Tottenham Hotspur.
“While at South China we played Spurs in front of 40,000 supporters,” Pavlovic said.
“It was a real buzz and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I was on the bench against Manchester City the following week but never came on. I really enjoyed my time there and if the opportunity came again I would definitely go back.”
Pavlovic began his football in WA and made his league debut under the tutelage of former Perth Glory coach Gary Marocchi.
“I started at Swan IC before playing for Bayswater City, Floreat Athena and Balcatta in the state league,” he said.
“I worked with Gary at Swan IC. He was the coach who introduced me to first team football when I was 15 years old and got me to train with the first team on a regular basis.”
The defender was outstanding in last week’s 5-1 thrashing of Inglewood United, which consolidated fifth spot for the Macedonia Park club.
“It was a good victory on the road last week. We created a number of chances and got into good positions and it keeps us in touch with Sorrento in fourth,” Pavlovic said.
This week Stirling takes on second-placed Perth SC in a must-win game.
“Perth has been very impressive this season but we are in a situation now where we have to win every game and hope other results fall in our favour,” Pavlovic said.
“All we can do is win the game and I’m confident we can.”
The Lions take on Brisbane Roar in the Westfield FFA Cup in two weeks. Pavlovic is looking forward to taking on the A-League Champions but knows they must put that to the back of their minds, with the NPLWA top of their agenda.
“Everyone at the club is looking forward to this game. It’s a great opportunity for all the players to show themselves and prove themselves against a top flight powerhouse team,” he said.
“But we can’t look too far ahead and the only thing we are focused on is getting three points on Saturday against Perth.”
The Lions are at full strength for the game, while Perth will have Craig Simpson, Adrian Caceres and Matt Milenkovic back in consideration.
Fixtures (all 3pm)
Saturday: Perth Glory v Bayswater City (Intiga Stadium), Subiaco AFC v Inglewood United (WA Athletics Stadium), Cockburn City v Balcatta (Dalmatinac Park), ECU Joondalup v Armadale (ECU Football Arena), Stirling Lions v Perth SC (Macedonia Park)
Sunday: Floreat Athena v Sorrento (E&D Litis Stadium)