Being the champions of the Super League and undoubtedly one of the best teams in Malaysia, perhaps even in the region - it is not an easy task for anyone to break into the starting line-up of Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT). More so when the you're a 20 year old centre back coming up the ranks.
The competition is fierce when your challengers for the two starting spots are Marcos Antonio, Fadhli Shas, Aidil Zafuan and Junior Eldstal. Based on the minutes played alone, Dominic Tan is perhaps only the fifth choice centre back for JDT.
But sometimes, opportunity comes along when a set of situations aligned themselves. That was what happened for Dominic to get his first league start at the weekend for JDT in their 1-1 draw against Melaka United.
With Fadhli and Eldstal nursing injuries and Aidl not risked in the clash at Hang Jebat Stadium, Dominic was roped in for only his second start of the season. His only other start was in the AFC Cup against Boeung Ket.
Speaking to Goal, Dominic was understandably delighted to have trusted by Benjamin Mora to be given an opportunity but the down-to-earth boy knows that for a side like JDT, winning is a habit and in that sense, was rather self-critical of his own performance.
The national U-22 player admitted that his slip allowed Jeon Woo-Young the chance to nick an equaliser for Melaka in the dying minutes of the match but had a largely impressive match in the centre of defence - standing up well to the physical contest against Ilija Spasojevic.
"I'm of course happy to be given the chance to play in my first league game but I think the result is not what we wanted, so we'll have to work harder for the next game," said Dominic.
The defence is about partnerships - either between the left back and the left centre back or between the two centre backs. Having started the previous game alongside Aidil, Dominic was put beside Antonio for the Melaka match and he reckoned that the chemistry could still be improved further.
"I think it was good. It was alright. Since we conceded, I guess there's still a lot that we need to work on," added Dominic.
In his post-match press conference, Mora called Dominic a player of the future of JDT. Time is very much on the side of Dominic but like any player, he yearns for more game time. Melaka's match was only his third appearance, with the other being a late substitution in against Magwe FC last week.
"Of course, as a player, I would want to play. But in a team like this, I guess I have to wait and hope that the opportunity will come. Especially I have to grab it. If I'm given the chance again, hopefully I can do something," enthused Dominic.
The former Johor Darul Ta'zim II player is expected to see more minutes on the pitch when the 2017 South-East Asian (SEA) Games comes around in August. Maybe that would be the stage for young Dominic to show to his coaches at JDT that he would be deserving of one or two steps higher up the pecking order.