Warriors on a mission

Warriors on a mission
Miroslav Pejic

Miroslav Pejic is no stranger to Italian opposition.

Warriors FC's Croat striker, who will trade the S.League club's blue strip for a Singapore Selection side's red when they take on Italian giants Juventus at the new National Stadium on Saturday, has had some experience grappling with Italian defenders.

At Croatian top-tier side NK Zagreb, where he played from 2005 to 2012, he faced Italian opposition four times in sparring matches.

And, while the 28-year-old agrees with the old adage of Italians being the masters of the art of defence, he is backing the Singapore side to breach the Bianconeri's goal.

"It is true what people say, it does seem tougher to play against Italian defences," said Pejic, who faced the likes of Udinese, Chievo, Torino and Hellas Verona.

"Italian teams play a different style, it's very tactical, but this is not to say you cannot compete with them.

"There are still spaces and gaps you can take advantage of.

"I believe with the players we have, we can score."

Pejic sheepishly admits he didn't manage to find the target in any of those four appearances against the Italian sides, but quickly and proudly pointed out that he set up a teammate for a goal against Udinese.

The 1.84m-tall forward has been in fine scoring form since signing for the Warriors at the start of the year, plundering 10 goals in 17 games in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League.

Extra

As one of the three foreign players called up by national coach Bernd Stange for the Singapore Selection team, he admits he does feel the weight of expectation to produce something extra.

"I think about it a little, but it does not really bother me," he said.

"Instead, I think of the enjoyment of playing in this sort of match, against the legends of Juventus, and I forget about the pressure."

Pejic puffs his cheeks and exhales deeply when he recalls how well Chilean star Alexis Sanchez - a new signing for English Premier League club Arsenal - played for Udinese against Zagreb.

"Everybody knows he is good but that day, seeing him up close, he was magic, man."

Pejic is expecting Juventus' own stable of magicians to weave their own brand of magic on the turf of the National Stadium, and he is relishing the chance to go toe-to-toe with them.

"I'm really excited... It's a big honour to be part of this game," he said.

"I think we can surprise them. Why not?

"Teams like Juventus, when they come to pre-season tours like this, don't give 100 per cent. But we will.

"And we have a good team. The national team play a lot of games together, and they recently went on a training camp in Austria where they played European teams, so they know what to expect.

"We won't be signing a surrender before the game. We want to prove ourselves and try to do something positive. And I think we can."


This article was first published on August 13, 2014.
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