Western United’s next generation: Ajak Deu and Dalibor Markovic

Western United has strengthened its A-League squad for the upcoming 2021/22 season with a number of new signings, but a host of young players coming through the club’s academy are also poised to make their mark.

The club has seen great success in the launch of the inaugural NPL team this year, with the seniors currently sitting one point off top of the table in NPL 3 while the season remains on hold due to COVID-19.

A number of the stars of Ante Moric’s team made A-League debuts last season and many more will be hoping to impress John Aloisi and break into the first-team over the course of the 2021/22 campaign.

In this web series, the club will celebrate the plethora of young talent coming through and striving for more opportunities this season.

Ajak Deu

Alongside Bayew in the NPL side, Ajak Deu has grown from strength to strength and has also penned a scholarship contract for the 2021/22 A-League season.

A towering centre half, Deu has commanded the Western United defence in NPL 3 with physicality, positional awareness and composure on the ball playing out of the back.

Deu was born in Africa and is one of 10 children. He moved to Australia in 2015 as a 14-year-old, settling in Truganina where he lives with four of his siblings.

The 20-year-old attended Hoppers Crossing Secondary College and developed his football at Werribee City over three seasons.

With the possibility of an A-League debut on the horizon this season, Deu is eager to continue to impress the coaching staff and earn his place in the side.

“I have to really focus. There’s good players and great coaches around me, so I have to listen to them to become a better player,” he said.

“I’m learning from all the players. Particularly Sanchez, Dia and Tomoki and Josh Risdon. If I get something wrong, they tell me how it’s it done and I try to do it the way they said it. And the coaches mainly as well.

“I didn’t ever think I was going to be here, it’s really amazing. I’m really proud, maybe one day I’ll be a star at the club.

“I just love to play, get the ball, play, win and celebrate.”

Follow Ajak on Instagram here.

Dalibor Markovic

Football was always in Dalibor Markovic’s blood, from playing in the backyard with his father as a young boy growing up in New South Wales.

Markovic made his first steps into football with A.C United and Freeman Soccer Club in NSW before making the move to Victoria, playing at Spring Hills and with the Skilleroos state team.

After breaking through at Melbourne Victory, Markovic made his debut against Western United and became the youngest player to have two assists in an A-League game since 2015.

Markovic was converted to the Green and Black weeks later, but unfortunately suffered an ankle injury on his debut, restricting him to three appearances in total.

As the final part of his rehab, Markovic took two weeks during his annual leave period to train and play with the NPL team, something he said was invaluable ahead of the start of pre-season.

“It was so important for me, as after the injury I didn’t really train that much because the season finished, so to get that two weeks under my belt before coming back with the first-team really helped a lot,” he said.

“The NPL boys have so much talent in that group and I think they have a really good chance at making a statement in the NPL, not just for themselves, but for the academy as a whole.

“A couple of the boys have made the transition into the first-team which just goes to show the work Ante Moric does with them to give them the best chance to be in a first-team environment.”

That has provided Markovic with fitness and confidence boost to take into the pre-season campaign, with competition at left-back now with new signing Ben Garuccio.

Markovic is aiming to show new head coach John Aloisi and his staff that he is ready to be called upon once the A-League season begins.

“My goals for the new season are just to get as much game time as possible and keep developing day in, day out,” he said.

“I’m still fairly new to first-team football, so I just want to prove to the new coaching staff that I can be relied on when I’m needed.”

Follow Dalibor on Instagram here.