First on the Telechoice Premier League table and with the Premiership seemingly headed to the shire, the combination of battle-hardened experience and youthful exuberance at Sutherland seemed un-breakable.
Their undefeated league campaign had been built upon a clinical attitude in front of goal – with top goal-scorer Brad Boardman racking up an impressive 16 goals in a lone-striker role -, a mixture of consistency and creativity in midfield ? courtesy of the likes of Nick Stavroulakis and the promising Brendan Gan ? and finally, by an oft-impenetrable defensive line.
It is in towering centre-back Predrag Bojic that Sutherland?s superb season has been epitomised: hard-working, composed and harbouring a penchant for attack.
Bojic ? who helped Australia progress past the group stages of the World Youth Chamoionships in 2001 ? has been at the centre of constant media speculation surrounding the club in the past weeks, with a number of its stars having been tipped for A-League contracts.
With young-gun Brendan Gan now a confirmed recruit of Sydney FC?s youth side for the inaugural national league, perhaps the added publicity has distracted the side at the most inopportune of times ? they have now lost their last two games and are in danger of losing the Premiership to either of the in-form Wollongong or Sydney Olympic.
Bojic however, insists he is not going anywhere just yet and despite the recent set-backs, maintains that he is fully focused on winning the premiership and championship with Sutherland.
During some rough times for the shire club, Football NSW turns to its inspirational defensive pillar and A-League target Predrag Bojic.
FNSW: Predrag, there have been reports that you signed with A-League club the Central Coast Mariners. Is there any truth in this?
PB: I?ve been reading in some local papers that I?ve signed with the Central Coast and that there?s been an offer made to me. Nothing like that has happened. I wouldn?t say I?m close to signing with the Central Coast Mariners at this point, though there is a strong interest from the club.
When our season first kicked off, the Wellington Phoenix were watching me. There was a strong interest from the Phoenix and the club made an offer to me at the time. But after speaking to them, I rejected the offer because it just wasn?t realistic ? I had a number of work commitments.
FNSW: You did trial with the Mariners though, didn?t you?
PB: I?ve played a couple of games with them and was quite confident but I haven?t seen any specific offer yet.
I?m still speaking to Ian Ferguson but at this point no official offer has been made, so I?m guessing during the next week there should be something there.
FNSW: With all of the recent hype about a potential A-League move surrounding the club, have you been distracted from your work with Sutherland?
PB: Playing for Sutherland right now is as important to me as it was when I was playing for them on my debut. I will remain totally committed to the Sharks until my time with the club ends.
FNSW: Predrag, thank you for your time and good luck with the remainder of the season.
PB: Thank you.
-Interview by Chris Paraskevas