Felda United are a team in great form as they go into the first leg of the Malaysia Cup semi-final against Kedah on Sunday. With five wins from seven matches and 18 goals from those matches since the start of August, The Fighters will definitely not be short on confidence as they attempt to reach the final of the oldest cup competition in Malaysia.
One of the bedrocks of B. Sathianathan's team has been the centre of defence where mid-season signing Dino Djulbic has strucked up a solid partnership with evergreen Shukor Adan. The 34-year-old defender comes in with plenty of experience of playing all over the continent, from Australia to China to the Middle East.
It came as a shock to Djulbic to see himself being partnered with someone much older than him but with every passing minute, has a grown admiration for the 38-year-old Shukor. A player whom he makes out to be a living embodiment of a true professional.
"I was a bit surprised when I first came. The quality that he has at that age and how fit he is. You can say that he looks after himself. He's got so much experience and you can't bring someone else to replace that. I think our partnership has gone really well and we compliment each other."
"When you play with someone who knows football well, you just enjoy it more.You saw how he went forward and delivered the perfect cross for us to score against PKNP. He's a true leader and he leads by example.
"The boys have actually been really good. Sathia said to me that Shukor will always lead and he wants me to be vocal at the back. That's a big part of my game as well and the boys have embrace it. You don't shout because someone made a mistake but I do it to show them what need to done better and to improve. To help other people and their positioning," said Djulbic to Goal.
Felda has already shown that they have what it takes to beat Kedah in recent times and Djulbic is confident that they can do it again on Sunday. The 6"4' Australian is counting on the growing confidence and belief in the team that will take them to the next stage of the competition, one that remains a big target for the club.
"Psychologically, we got a little advantage over them with the win few weeks ago. Even if they played with their second team, it will be in the back of the minds that Felda went there and scored three goals to win. We don't expect it to be an easy game, that's for sure. But we're a tough team as well and we do want to take it all the way now."
"We've been scoring a lot of goals. We work together as a team and work for each other. We defend from the front and we also attack from the back. When we lose the ball, we are compact and teams found it hard to break us down. Hopefully we can built on that and take it into the next game.
"For us personally and the club, it's very important. We had a good second half start. We want to fight in the Malaysia Cup and climb the ladder in the league. Sathia said from the start is to make the cup semi-final and probably the final. So we knew that had to do it in the group stages to go to the next level.
"We had little hiccup in the quarters, losing at home to PKNP. I think that was a bit of a wake up call. We got our stuff together and we knew what we needed to go. Many people have written us off but we came together as a team," added Djulbic.
With Thiago Augusto Fernandes and Wan Zack Haikal in great form from the attacking perspective, coupled with the massive experience at the back, it will be hard not to give Felda a fair chance of reaching their first ever Malaysia Cup final after coming undone at the semi-final stage back in 2014 and 2015.