Friday, 20 July 2012

The New Signing... It's Zlatan

Omiya Ardija have confirmed recent press rumours with the announcement that Zlatan Ljubijankic has joined the club from Belgian side KAA Gent. Ljubijankic, who will take squad number 11 at Ardija, is a 1m 86cm 28-year-old Slovenian international forward.

The basic facts of his career are that he began in his native country with the NK Domzale club in 2002, immediately helping them to win promotion to the top division. Ljubijankic went on to notch up 40 goals in 155 games for Domzale, the highlight being a championship win in 2006/07. Midway through the following season he moved to Gent, where he has found the net another 27 times in 125 appearances. A member of the Slovenian national side since 2006, Ljubijankic attracted wider attention when he scored in the 2010 World Cup match against the US in South Africa [see clip].

At Omiya he will of course be playing under a former Slovenia coach in Zdenko Verdenik, which presumably provides the reason for the signing being made in the first place. Ljubijankic also follows in the footsteps of Klemen Lavric, another Slovenian striker who turned out for the Squirrels with mixed results between 2006 and 2008.

So what can we expect from our new signing? Follower of the Belgian league Gary Niblock observed, "Zlatan's a striker by trade but often plays out wide. He's not a prolific goalscorer by any means but is good at link-up play. Target man would be his best role [and] I could see him doing well in Japan. Gent like to play a fast, high-tempo game so if he gels well with the coach and his team-mates [one-touch football] should be no problem for him."

It's true that Ljubijankic has a less-than-stellar scoring record, but the aim in bringing him to Omiya would seem to be to have someone as a focus for the attack who could combine with other players while maintaining the speed and momentum. Rafael could not do this consistently and has been shipped out; Yu Hasegawa may be big and he does have other skills but he is atrocious in the air. The opportunity is there for Ljubijankic to come in and be a new Squirrels hero.



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