It was a week ago when the final whistle blew at the Jalan Besar Stadium to signal the end of the Lion City Sailors’ perfect start to the 2024/25 Singapore Premier League season, as they were held to a 1-1 draw with Geylang International.

While Sailors Head Coach Aleksandar Ranković insisted that the draw was “justified” based on how the game went, it was ultimately still a disappointing result for his side, who were hoping to make it five wins out of five.

Nonetheless, there were a few Sailors who acquitted themselves well on the night against a resilient and tenacious Geylang side.

Among them was full-back Obren Kljajić, who has begun the season in fine form. Indeed, the 20-year-old Australian has played every minute of the Sailors’ five games so far, catching the eye with his industry, pace, and technical ability on the ball.

Despite the encouraging start to his Sailors career, Obren acknowledges the need to remain humble and not take his spot in the first team for granted.

Obren, who opened his Sailors account with a goal against Hougang United in their first SPL match of the season, explained, “It’s definitely a huge honour to be starting every game for a big club like the Sailors, especially given my age. All I can do is give my 100% everytime I step onto the pitch, and then it’s up to Coach Ranko to decide what he thinks is best for the team.”

When asked what his personal goals for the rest of the season were, Obren replied, “To be honest, I hope to play every game, and I want to contribute to the team in various ways. As long as I’m fit and healthy, and I can help the team, that’s all that matters to me.

“Overall, I think we have a really good group of players who have gelled really well together. We’ve all bought into what the coach wants us to do, so I’m confident it’ll be a good season for us.”

One of the criticisms levelled at the Sailors in the aftermath of their draw with Geylang was their supposed over-reliance in attack on last season’s SPL Player of the Year, Maxime Lestienne, who scored the equaliser to salvage a point for his side.

But Obren was quick to dismiss that notion, as he highlighted the depth and quality of attacking talent the Sailors possess – with already eight players on the scoresheet this season.

“We have numerous attacking threats in the team, including Bart (Ramselaar), Lennart (Thy), and Shawal (Anuar). Even midfielders like Song (Uiyoung) and Adam Swandi can make significant contributions in the final third,” Obren elaborated.

“I also see myself as a threat when I push forward from the left-back position. So apart from Maxime, we have plenty of firepower, which is evident in the goals we’ve scored this season.”

The Sailors will be looking to return to winning ways when they take on Tanjong Pagar United at the Bishan Stadium on Sunday (July 7) evening.

While the Sailors are heavy favourites to pick up all three points against seventh-placed Jaguars, Obren warned against complacency. The visitors got their first win of the season the last time out in a stunning 3-2 win over title challengers Brunei DPMM and will be looking to claim another scalp.

“I don’t think any game is easy in this league, so it will be a challenge for us,” said Obren. “If we drop our guard, we could get punished. Tanjong Pagar also just beat Brunei (DPMM), which shows that they are not a team to be taken lightly.

“We have to stay focused and play at our best. Our goal is to approach the game correctly, play well, and return to winning ways.”