APAI Ukuno marks his performances for Moreland City harder than just about anyone else.
The 25-year-old striker, who earned an international call-up for South Sudan last year, was one of Moreland’s standout performers throughout the 2016 National Premier League campaign.
After moving to Victoria from Queensland club Brisbane Strikers, Ukuno netted 18 goals from 24 matches in NPL2 West.
But he was far from satisfied with that tally and plans to terrorise defences again this year.
“Holding on to Apai was massive, he’s an international player,” Moreland captain Corey Thomas said.
“He scored a lot of goals for us last year, maybe could have scored a few more.
“He’s said that himself. But I think as a team if we work together and help him a bit more, I think he can be pushing us for promotion then.”
Consistency was one of Ukuno’s greatest strengths in his debut season at Campbell Reserve.
He started in a blaze of glory for Moreland City, scoring eight times in his first six matches.
Ukuno found the back of the net in 50 per cent of games he played, with his longest goal drought in 2016 four matches.
“You need to be consistent in whatever you do,” Ukuno said.
“I look forward to the new season, look forward to continuing to apply myself the best way possible to score many goals for my football club.”
While proud to have been added to the South Sudan squad, which is ranked 168th in the world, Ukuno is determined to stay grounded and achieve success with Moreland City.
“That will come in time,” he said.
“The first and foremost is to do well for the club, when the opportunity knocks that’s when you start to think about it.”
Ukuno described his experience with the Bright Stars as “unbelievable”.
“It is a different standard, a different atmosphere,” he said. “It’s something fantastic to be a part of, history as well for our young nation. Just to be part of it was an unbelievable experience.”
Ukuno said Moreland City was in a “good position” to mount a title challenge after bolstering its squad during the off-season.