Mario’s Malaysian Mission

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Former Adelaide City and Brisbane Roar midfielder, Mario Karlović is preparing to kick off a new season with new club Armed Forces ATM in the Malaysian Super League. Having finished a disappointing tenth last season the club has undertaken an aggressive transfer policy in the offseason which included picking up Karlović from fellow MSL team Terengganu FA.

“They were interested in me early on and put an offer on the table before the season had even finished,” the Adelaide native told Football Central.

“And I spoke to a lot of people and they said very very good things about the coach and that is what helped me decide (to join ATM FA).”

Karlović has been in Southeast Asia since 2011 and has spent most of his time in Indonesia with Persebaya Surabaya. He was a favourite with the Bonek, Persebaya’s fans, and the decision to leave was not an easy one as he explained.

“I had to leave Indonesia because I needed a new challenge and the league was going through some political troubles. It was hard leaving Persebaya because it is a club that I am still very close with the fans.”

Despite interest from other countries, the former Australian youth international was impressed by the organisation of the Malaysian Super League which is the top tier of the three-tiered Malaysian football pyramid and made up of twelve teams. He enjoyed a successful first season last year in Malaysia with Terenggnau who finished fourth and had a good cup run.

“I really enjoyed my first season. We were challenging for the title all the way to the last 2 games and also made the quarter final of the Malaysian cup,” said Karlović.

“It was a tough city (Terengganu) to live in because it didn’t have the lifestyle we were used to but I still enjoyed it.”

The club has brought in around a dozen new faces including two Nigerian internationals and a Honduran international, with Mario being the plus one Asian signing of the 3 + 1 rule that many leagues in the Asian Football Confederation have in place. Likely to be used as a playmaker, there’ll be a lot of responsibility on the Australian to help the new look team gel on the pitch so they can challenge for silverware which he’s confident they can do.

“We have a very strong side this year. A lot of new faces. It all depends on how quickly we can gel together. If we do that from the start we will have a very good chance of challenging for the cups and title.

“I really want to win a trophy this year. Also I just want to keep pushing myself. Seeing how much I can improve with every game and help my teammates along the way.”

 There have been six different winners of the Malaysian Super League since inception in 2004 but Karlović’s ATM side are yet to join this group after being promoted from the second division as Champions in 2012. ATM, known as The Gladiators, will begin their campaign on the 7th of February at home to two-time champion Kelantan FA.

Adam Howard

Adam is one of the founders of Football Central and the creator of  He has followed the career paths of Australian footballers playing in leagues all over the world.  Born in Adelaide and currently residing in Hiroshima, Adam brings a unique perspective to Australian football.  He is an ardent supporter of Australia's domestic competition and national team.

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