First order of business was infrastructure as the main stadium in Larkin was in a dilapidated condition since its last refurbishment was done prior to being one of the host stadiums for the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship
. Work went in to gradually make the stadium more user friendly.
But with any football team, the main focus would also be on the squad itself and there, TMJ
splashed big to bring in a whole host of top local and international players. The first batch of influx saw the likes of Safiq Rahim
, Aidil Zafuan
, Zaquan Adha
, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha
and Safee Sali
brought in, while 2008 European Championship
winner with Spain, Dani Guiza
also joined the ranks. In their very first year of existence in 2013, JDT
would finish third in the Super League, reached the FA Cup final and reached the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Cup, all in all a very decent start to life for the newly-revamped football club and the progress spurred TMJ
onto pursue more.
When the 2014 season came around, more recruitment had been done to further enhance the team. Amri Yahyah
, Hariss Harun
, Fadhli Shas
, S. Subramaniam
, Asraruddin Putra
and Amirulhadi Zainal
had been added to the team. But the arrival of two Argentines in Luciano Figueroa
and Pablo Aimar
really signalled JDT’s
intention that season. Here were two big names in the world of football who have experience not only with club sides in England and Spain but were also internationals for one of the world’s footballing superpowers.
would go on to lift their first Super League title in 2014 and it changed the course of Malaysian football. It was a position that the Southern Tigers
have not relinquished since, winning the 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 titles in incredibly consistent fashion.
The signing of big names made people sit up and take notice of this emerging power from Malaysia, but it was in 2015 when Asia had to take JDT
more seriously. Against all the odds, JDT
went on an amazing run in the AFC Cup
and eventually lifted the prized trophy against Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol, making them the first team from Malaysia to win an Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
magnificent run in the competition also meant that Malaysia quickly rose up the Club Rankings within AFC
, which comes with the coveted spot in the premier competition, the AFC Champions League
. They became the first Malaysian team to participate in the group stage in 2019, another historic mark for club and country.