For Gary Steven Robbat, it has been an arduos 2017. Having spent most of the season recovering and working his way back to the team, the midfielder seemed to have earned the trust of head coach, Ulisses Morais.
The role at the base of the midfield for Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) were largely handed to Afiq Fazail and Amirulhadi Zainal for big chunks of the season. But since his return, Gary has been the preferred choice in the midfield trio alongside Ignacio 'Natxo' Insa and Safiq Rahim.
In the past, the former Young Tigers player was often criticised for being reckless with his decision and most often than not, is a recipient of cards from the match officials. However, as he showed during the match in Ipoh, Gary has reached a more thoughtful approach to his hard-tackling style of play.
"After these six months, that match against Perak was only my third game. I don't think I'm completely fully match fit yet but I hope to continue to play and reach back to that level," Gary told Goal.
The second leg of the Malaysia Cup semi-final against Perak at Tan Sri Dato Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium will be the last match played in JDT's home ground for the 2017 season. Should they advance to the final, the match will be played at Shah Alam Stadium while their remaining Super League fixture is an away trip to Alor Setar.
With that in mind, Gary and his team mates are bent on making it a memorable night for their fans as they try to make their first appearance in the Malaysia Cup final since 2014. The stadium has been a fortress for JDT as they have not lost any competitive domestic match in any of the last 58 matches played there.
The 25-year-old wants his team to forget about what happened in the first leg and to not overly rely on the away goal advantage. Gary wants the team to approach the match as one of its own and look to pick up another home win.
"Of course there's an advantage with the away goal but we are not thinking about the first leg. We will play to win the second leg. We have to be more aggressive against Perak. For sure we are ready. We're playing at home and are focused on getting a good result in front of our own fans," added Gary.