James Temelkovski and MetroStars stamping their authority on South Australian football
In 2023, South Australia's most dominant striker won't be found in the A-League Men or overseas but in the local NPL. New MetroStars forward James Temelkovski recently spoke to Front Page Football after a terrific start to life at his new club.
James Temelkovski in action for the MetroStars against Campbelltown City. (Ken Carter)
The first seven rounds of the NPL SA season have seen MetroStars establish themselves as serious contenders for major honours. A lot has changed at the club during the off-season, with a new coach and many new players joining. Striker James Temelkovski has been the pick of the recent acquisitions early in the season.
Metro is performing well on the pitch, as their fans are accustomed to. But this year, they have gained a striker who can consistently translate their positive play into goals. Temelkovski has scored eight goals in seven NPL games, finding the net in each of the first six rounds to help his club reach 15 points, equal with league leaders Adelaide United Youth.
Temelkovski joined the MetroStars from NPL Victoria side St Albans Saints, having also previously played in the New South Wales competition with Sutherland Sharks and Rockdale Ilinden. But this move is not his first taste of South Australian football. The striker also had a prolific spell at Adelaide Croatia Raiders, scoring six goals in 11 appearances for the club in 2021, where he was first acquainted with his new club.
"I think MetroStars is a big club in South Australia; I knew it is a well-respected club because they are always a top three, top four club," Temelkovski told FPF about his new club.
"The second reason is because of their recruitment of Danny Graystone (Head Coach) and Nik Kuzman (Senior Football Director). They really want to make it professional here and take the club to the next level; this is why I thought this was the right move for me."
Temelkovski during his first spell in South Australia with Adelaide Croatia Raiders. (Adam Butler/@8zerokms)
Despite his side fighting for the top spot, Temelkovski asserted that his team are under no illusions about the high standards they have set.
"We’ve done well, but we expect more; we expect to win every game. That’s what we want; we want to win every game. That’s the calibre we have and the expectation of each player," he added.
"Our aim is to win everything this year, absolutely everything, and to really stamp our authority on South Australian football. We want to show here, and all around Australia, how good MetroStars can be and to broadcast that all the players that we have here can compete elsewhere as well, even further in the A-League."
The striker candidly shared that whilst winning is an expectation, this focus also entails how those wins are achieved. The goal is to be ruthless in the process.
"We want to suffocate and destroy teams, not just by 2-1 results; we really want to be ahead by five goals and to show the Metro style of football. That is [a] high press, keeping the ball the whole game, and just dominating the whole game. It is not just winning games; we want to outclass and outplay the opposition," Temelkovski said.
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Temelkovski's unplayable form is more than just a talented footballer at the peak of his physical power. It is also because he is in a good mental space. The striker praised his new club's family-orientated environment, ensuring that is the case.
"My favourite thing (about MetroStars) would probably be the people that run the club, and all the people that are part of the club, from the kitchen to the training ground," he added.
"It is just a really good, family-orientated club. It is run well, and they really care about each other on and off the pitch. You don’t get much of that, some clubs are just football, but this is really home for anyone that comes across, from South Australia or interstate; they treat you like family here, which is really good."
Admittedly, Temelkovski is chasing the league's Golden Boot along with team success. He credits his strong start to the confidence and freedom his teammates provide for him.
An excellent example of that trust is being allowed to take free kicks, something teammate Hamish Gow excels at. Being allowed to share set-piece duty with Gow has already paid dividends, with the striker sealing a win against West Adelaide from a dead-ball, which only helped increase his confidence and repay the trust his teammates have in him.
"I have my teammates giving me the confidence to do what I want; they give me freedom. For example, the boys allow me to take free kicks, which Hamish normally does, and we communicate as well," Temelkovski said.
"When I score a goal, I get confidence to go and score more. Right now, the team is giving me confidence, Danny (Graystone) as well, and even Nik Kuzman; he also checks in on me to see where I am at mentally. We always try and get confidence out of each player, and it is why we get results here."
Temelkovski's attention is on bringing back silverware to T.K. Shutter Reserve. But with Football Australia set to introduce a National Second Tier (NST) next year, the striker was open about his ambitions for the future.
"I obviously want to take my career to the next level, and that (National Second Tier) or the A-League is the next step. That is my idea for next year, but right now, I am obviously focused on Metro, getting as much as I can out of Metro and winning as much as I can for Metro. But that is something I have my eye on for next year," he said.
READ: The NST Round of 32: The New South Wales nine
The MetroStars have been open about sharing their ambition of eventually elevating the club to a higher level a few years into the future when Football Australia opens the next round of NST bidding. The club's move to employ Graystone full-time, a rarity at this level, is an obvious sign of intent.
Despite only being at the club briefly, Temelkovski believes his current club is on the right path to achieving its lofty goals.
"I think Metro has everything to do it (joining a National Second Tier)," the striker shared.
"Right now, they are trying to tell everyone they can do it, not just by the results. They are trying to upgrade the stadium, their youth, and even [by] hiring Danny Graystone.
"They are trying their best to show people they deserve it; I think it is a matter of time. I don’t know who picks the teams that make it, but I think Metro is on the right track for a license."
After an imposing victory over the Adelaide Comets in the Federation Cup, James Temelkovski and the MetroStars return to NPL SA action on Friday night when they visit Oakden to take on defending champions Adelaide City.
Need a reminder about what happened in Round 7 of the NPL SA? Click here to read our latest winners and losers piece!