KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) is the perfect club for local players to pursue success and big dreams as a footballer, says its owner Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.
The Johor Regent admitted there were certain quarters trying to scare players into thinking they would get limited playing time with JDT, which would eventually ‘kill’ their career.
However, Tunku Ismail, who is also the Tunku Mahkota of Johor (TMJ), stressed that every player on the Southern Tigers squad worked hard to get game time on the field, as well as proved their ability before being called up to the main squad.
“If you want to play every match, go to PKNP FC and Felda United. You will get first eleven football every single game.
“But if you want to be a champion, you come to JDT. (There will be a) higher chance of winning, higher chance of adding silverware to your closet, and at the same time, you have better exposure playing in ACL (AFC Asian Champions League),” he told reporters after visiting the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) headquarters on Wednesday.
“To be in a professional football club, you have to fight for your place. That is what becoming a professional footballer means. But if you are a player and do not want to fight for your place (in the squad) then you will never improve as you will remain in your comfort zone,” he added.
Tunku Ismail also cited several young players now with the national squad, including striker Muhammad Safawi Rasid, as examples of how JDT gave players a chance to play, especially those who were up and coming.
“I brought in Safawi when he was 19 and now he is playing every game… Adam Nor Azlin (defender) now is taking over from the seniors there and playing in the ACL… Safawi Rasid and Akhyar (Muhammad Akhyar Abdul Rashid) are playing in the ACL,” he said.
JDT has won 13 domestic and Asian titles since 2013 with the highest achievement of winning the 2015 AFC Cup as well as setting an impressive record of defending the Super League title six times in a row. — Bernama