Sabah’s Paunovic finds new edge with age

Happy family: Sabah striker Rodoljub Paunovic posing for a photograph with his son Vukan and wife Ivana at their residence in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

PETALING JAYA: In football, when an attacker enters his 30s, he tends to slow down, drop a division or two or just call it quits.

But there are exceptions.

Juventus’ Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo is still able to produce amazing results for club and country at 35. Barcelona’s Argentine Lionel Messi, at 32, is still arguably the best in the world.

And in Malaysia, Selangor’s attacking midfielder Sandro Mendonca is still imperious with his free-kicks and potent passes at 36.

Enter Sabah striker Rodoljub Paunovic.

The Serbian, who turns 35 on June 20, believes he still has a lot left in his tank.

He hopes to push himself and his teammates to give their all in the remaining seven matches if the Super League resumes as planned in September.

“Of course, I am always feeling strong, mentally and physically. My president (Peter Anthony) always says age is just a number and he is right, ” said the former Hajduk Kula and Krabi FC player.

“Right now, because of the pandemic, I do a fitness test every week and the results have been good. Intensity wise, I am at 70% now, but I am at that stage because we do not have games. Once the league resumes, I will be at 100%.”

To stay ready for the gruelling seven-match fixture upon resumption, the Serbian is going through various training programmes, including using lessons from his UEFA B licence stint in Serbia.

“Every day, I go through programmes from various professional coaches and also use my knowledge from the B licence course to device training plans. We should not just be doing physical workouts but also look for techniques from other coaches.

“I have friends in Europe who share their programmes and I always believe in learning.

“In the last two months, I learned a lot. I studied nutrition because I am getting older, and have to be focused on my diet. About the league, I mean we have to learn more how to adapt our self-confidence to be at the top-level. If we do this, we can achieve our target to be top five this season.”

Now that the movement control order (MCO) has been eased, Paunovic can savour the outdoors and is doing it with his nine-month-old son, Vukan.

“I’m happy, and soon I can use the field to train my technique and shots and dribbling. It’s very exciting, like a new beginning.

“My family gives me lots of confidence every day. My wife (Ivana) trains with me almost every day. My son just turned nine months two days ago, and he is so active and full of energy. He also just started walking, which gives me great joy as a father.”

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Sabah , Rodoljub Paunovic , Super League , Covid 19


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