Melbourne Heart FC fans must have thought they’d seen the last of young gun Eli Babalj as he packed his bag for former European Champions Red Star Belgrade.
Melbourne Heart FC fans must have thought they-d seen the last of young gun Eli Babalj as he packed his bag for former European Champions Red Star Belgrade.
However, after a shortened stint in Serbia and two games for the Qantas Socceroos, the young striker-s return may just be the spark the Red and White need as the side pushes for a second consecutive finals appearance.
“It-s great to have Eli back; his contribution last season was outstanding and his hunger to do well and succeed is second to none,” Heart Head Coach John Aloisi said.
Since his return to the team as a substitute against Western Sydney Wanderers, Babalj has started his previous two games, opening his account for the new season in Saturday's 2-0 win over Perth Glory FC.
Following another impressive performance, Aloisi praised the youngster on his efforts after an indifferent stint at Red Star, stressing that his best football is yet to come.
“When he first arrived two weeks ago, you could see he was a bit down on confidence," Aloisi said.
"He hadn-t played a lot of football.
“But that goal is going to give him a huge boost. He-ll keep on improving and we-ll keep working on his game.”
Babalj first burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old recruit for Heart-s inaugural season before shining last year, as he finished the season as the Red and White-s top goal scorer with nine goals.
Despite having only been home for less than a month, Babalj is already starting to find his groove as he adds further strength to a strike force which includes the likes of David Williams and Golgol Mebrahtu.
“He-s got some confidence back…I hadn-t seen much of that since he-s been back.” Aloisi said.
“That-s the Eli we want.”