After a goal-laden spell in Slovenia, former West Ham United and England U18 winger Matthias Fanimo has joined Mladost Doboj Kakanj who play in the top flight of Bosnia & Herzegovina football.
Mladost are based in the small village of Doboj in central Bosnia & Herzegovina. The village’s entire population could fit in the club’s 3,000 seater stadium called the MGM Farm Arena.
The team play in the 12 team Premier League of Bosnia and Herzegovina, having been promoted to the top flight in 2015. After finishes of 10th, 8th and 8th so far, this season they are in 6th going into the winter break after 19 games. This means for they are on course to qualify for the championship round when the league splits after 22 games for the first time, like what happens in Scotland and Wales.
The league has some fearsome rivalries, no more so than the match between Željezničar vs FK Sarajevo, which can be seen in the excellent Copa90 video here.
Ahead of Fanimo’s arrival, the club already has several foreign players, including three from Africa, one from Croatia and a midfielder from Saint Louis who played two seasons in the USL before arriving in Bosnia.
The club will be hoping Fanimo can carry over his very impressive goal scoring record from Slovenia into his new surroundings. He scored a remarkable 19 goals in 29 games during his year-long spell with NS Drava Ptuj in the Slovenian second-tier. What makes it even more remarkable is that he had scored just twice in his previous 40 appearances back in the UK.
Now that the deal is official, the 24-year-old spoke exclusively to English Players Abroad about his move to Bosnia and what he’s expecting. Here’s what he had to say.
I was hesitant to make the move at first. It took a lot of deliberating to finally decide to make the move. They’re an ambitious team with a really good manager and have great support from the president.
Although I had a really good comeback year in Slovenia, when it comes down to it, it was second division and it isn’t viewed as highly so moving to a first division puts me in a better market than I was previously in. If I can replicate the season I had in Slovenia here then I’m sure everything will turn out great.
I’m not sure what to expect from the league but I’m sure it will be very, very tough. You have teams that have experience of playing in the Champions League and Europa League, fighting for qualifications so it will definitely be a different atmosphere to the one I was in.
I’ve settled in quite well. They’re a great group of boys, very welcoming. The manager has been great with me. Now it’s just up to me to knuckle down again and do what I know I can do.
The Bosnian league returns to action on 23rd February after a two month winter break but the former West Ham winger’s first game for his new club could be in a friendly against Serbian giants Partizan Belgrade on 6th February. I have also previously interviewed Matthias, you can read that here.