Babalj: ‘Easy decision’ to join Adelaide United


Eli Babalj says leaving Eredivisie club AZ Alkmaar for Hyundai A-League title challengers Adelaide United was “an easy decision”.

The 23-year-old centre-forward has been loaned to the A-League club for the 2015-16 campaign after struggling to make an impression in Holland.

Babalj joins Reds on loan

Capped twice by the Socceroos, Babalj is yet to make a first-team appearance for AZ in the Dutch top flight, although he did manage four games on loan at Trent Sainsbury’s team PEC Zwolle last term.

Speaking to the Adelaide Advertiser upon his return to Australia, Babalj – who has endured hernia and adductor injuries during his time in the Netherlands – believes he is now physically equipped to play regularly for the Reds in the A-League.

“I have been doing a lot of training with AZ and also with a personal trainer as well,” he said.

“I played a game with AZ about two weeks ago but I decided to come here because Adelaide is a club that plays good football and was challenging for the title last year.

“They have good coaching staff and good players and it was a pretty easy decision.”

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It won’t be Josep Gombau picking the team next season though, the Spanish coach having been released early from his contract with Adelaide United for family reasons.

He has been succeeded by compatriot Guillermo Amor, a former Barcelona star, who, according to Babalj, will be able to call upon a versatile option alongside Bruce Djite, Pablo Sanchez and Sergio Cirio in attack at Adelaide United. 

“My aim is to play regularly. I want to get stronger and fitter,” Babalj said.

“I’ve been a striker since I started playing football. It’s the most difficult position.

“If you don’t score everyone thinks you’ve had a bad game.

“There’s more to my game than being just a target man. I like linking up and setting up goals.”