Junior believes that Amri, Safiq and Safee will help JDT win AFC Cup final
Midfielder Junior Eldstal is buzzing with excitement because he believes that Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) are capable of winning the 2015 AFC Cup to add to their Malaysia Super League (MSL) title.
JDT face FC Istiklol in Saturday night's AFC Cup final in Dushanbe, knowing that a victory in Tajikistan would be the second step in a possible treble of titles. And the Johor outfit are already through to the quarterfinals of the 2015 Malaysia Cup.
The Malaysia international will miss the final with injury after playing an important role in helping JDT become the first Malaysian club to advance to the final of a major regional competition, serving both in midfield and as a makeshift centre-back.
But Argentine striker Luciano Figueroa has been given the all-clear to lead the JDT attack after completing his suspension, adding to the club's impressive attacking depth.
"We have players who would walk into other first teams across Southeast Asia sitting on our bench," Junior said. "Our foreigners and the likes of our skipper Safiq [Rahim] and super Safee [Sali] up front will play huge roles in the final.
"And don't forget Amri Yahyah, who has been voted player of his generaton. His experience can carry our team in the final too."
Despite the Southern Tigers' achievements this season, Junior has urged Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) to rethink the domestic football calendar, with JDT's tiring players battling on four fronts this year.
"It has been draining physically but even more mentally," said Junior, who is undergoing physical rehab in England. "I honestly think FAM need to reconsider how the league and cups are run because the players have no break.
"We started last December and the season will finish in December this year, and then we are straight back for pre-season late December.
"The League should try to entwine the Cup competitions within the MSL schedule so players can get a well-deserved break like every other league in the world."
The Sabah-born 24-year-old is adamant that his teammates deserve their spot in the final, even though both JDT and Istiklol were granted passage through the semifinals against Kuwaiti clubs due to FIFA's suspension of the Kuwait Football Association.
"This is a great chance for us to create history," he said. "We never expected to reach so far but with the support we have from TMJ [Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim], the management and the fans, anything was possible this year."
"This final has a huge meaning to us because we've gone through this ride together with a lot of doubters and critics against us. But we like to prove the haters wrong and getting into the final has helped achieve that."