Step aside, Delap!

In the past, former Stoke City midfielder Rory Delap used to terrorise defenders in the Premier League with his long throw-ins but a certain Serbian is lighting up the Malaysian League with his monstrous throws – Even better than Delap!

PERAK have not played Kuantan FA before. It was their first match against the club side and many were expecting the Super League side to steam roll past the team.

It was the Third Round FA Cup match and Perak were certainly under pressure to win. In their second round match-up against Sarawak, the team fondly known as ‘Seladangs’ had to slug it out till extra-time to beat the Borneo side 3-1.

The reporters in the press box certainly did not want the same scenario to happen again and they prayed for either side to win the match in regular time. 

Perak’s league form has been poor and they have not been able to score in their own ground.

This match though, they started off well and Uzbekistan attacking midfielder cum forward Vokhid Shodiev scored his first goal for Perak - in the 3rd minute thanks to a brilliant pass from Brazilian winger Elias Fernandes de Oliveira.

After that though, one player stole the show with his superman-like prowess.

Perak may have won 1-0 against Kuantan FA but he captivated the hearts of many. Teams who come to the Perak Stadium in Ipoh know that it is not going to be an easy task playing in front of the partisan home crowd.

On March 5 though, fans stood up and applauded the 30-year-old Serbian centre-back Ljuba Baranin.

His team did not have a good game at all. Their coach Zulhamizan Zakaria got sent off in the 27th minute for arguing with their officials and their players were tactically weak against Perak.

For the Perak fans, and me, Baranin proved to be the highlight of the third round FA Cup match. The tall Serbian proved to be a wall in defence and also a potent attacking threat with his throws.

The fans even cheered him whenever he took his throws. It was a pity that his teammates could not capitalise on that advantage.

“I was actually surprised with the response in Ipoh. They actually cheered and got excited whenever I took the throws.

“In our second round match in Penang (Kuantan FA beat them 4-2), the fans actually threw bottles and whistled at me for taking such throws.

“It feels great to be appreciated and I salute Perak for that,” he said when asked on how he felt about the response in Ipoh.

Baranin doesn't just loop his throws into the area… These badboys are fired in like cannons!

In the match, at one point, he threw the ball in up to 55 metres and I am not exaggerating! Even Delap could not do that. His throws were out of this world.

“Since young, I have the ability to throw things quite far. When I took up football, it was natural for me to take throw-ins.

“However, to make sure my throws are strong and I do not get injuries by over straining my ligaments and muscles, I go to the gym regularly to strengthen my arms,” he said.

However, he did admit that it can be frustrating at times as some people only see him as a throw-in specialist.

“I am more than that actually. I can’t play football if I just throw the ball,” he said.

“I can jump well, my long balls can be pretty accurate and I am physically strong.

“I am fighter and leader in the team. I will always push my team-mates to do better.” 

Baranin came to Malaysia after his fellow colleague Marko Perovic, who played for Sime Darby last season, asked him to go on trials with few clubs in Malaysia.

Late 2015, he underwent training with Kuantan FA and Zulhamizan was impressed with his strength. The team immediately signed him to bolster their defence.

Even his assistant coach Mohd Shukri Ismail joked by saying, “I have a feeling he is Superman’s brother. His throws are amazing!”

Baranin said, “I didn’t know much about the Malaysian League. When I was in Serbia, I did read some articles on Malaysia.

“Perovic only had good things to say about the people here. Honestly, Malaysia is a beautiful country and I am loving it.”

In the early millennium, the name Adrian Jurad Chamrong would surely ring a bell among Malaysian football fans. Known for his powerful throws, the wingback was an important figure in Perlis football especially in 2004, when he helped the team to win the Malaysia Cup.

Many were wondering if there would be another Adrian but now they have an even better cannon launcher in the form of Baranin.

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