At the beginning of the season, when PJ City FC announced an all-local line-up for the 2021 Super League, no one took them seriously.
Now in less than two weeks and after three Super League games, a lot of fans are sitting up and taking notice of the local boys.
Instead of an anticipated bad run, the Phoenix are proudly undefeated, third in the table behind Johor Darul Ta'zim and Terengganu.
This came after PJ City drew 0-0 with Perak, 2-2 with Melaka and beat Sabah 1-0.
While PJ City coach P. Maniam is pleased with their performance so far, he doesn't want to jinx it by talking too much about their "feat".
Nonetheless, he admitted that the unbeaten run has been a huge morale booster for the squad.
"We've gotten good results in our last three games. And in the last match (PJ City beat Sabah 1-0), we collected three points away. That's due to our players' commitment."
Maniam said PJ City have done well, not just because of Darren Lok (the leading scorer in Super League with three goals) but also due to great efforts by captain K Gurusamy, goalkeeper Kalamullah Al-Hafiz Mat Rowi, Raffi Nagoorgani, K Prabakaran and Tamil Maran Manimaran.
"Our players attacked and defended well. That's teamwork.
"The beauty of this team is that everyone wants to show that an all-local team can play against rivals who are backed by foreign players."
Maniam said the PJ City team have a high work rate and he is glad to have signed committed players competing among themselves for the first 11,
He pointed out that young players like Jeremy Lim, 23, Sunil Chandran, 21, K Thivandaran, 22, and D. Kugan, 24, are hard working and adding vigour to the team.
"They know they will get the opportunity to play if they work hard enough because there isn't any import in the team. They are motivated and they want to prove themselves."
PJ City FC owner, Datuk Seri Vijay Eswaran, who wants to revive the "anak Malaysia" feeling in domestic football with his "all local content" for the league, said these early results have given them a positive outlook on things to come.
"We've been incredibly careful in our selection process, choosing the crème de la crème of Malaysian players.
"I'm a firm believer in our local talent which is the hallmark and ethos of our team."
But today, PJ City's unbeaten run in the league will be put to a stiff test when they travel to Alor Star to face Kedah.
Maniam admitted that his team's unbeaten record is in danger unless they neutralise Kedah's foreign attack of Rabih Ataya (Lebanon), Kpah Sherman (Liberia) and Tchetche Kipre (Ivory Coast).
"This is our second successive away match, it will be tough for us," he said.
However, many local fans hope that PJ City's 'home brew' can still give plenty of kicks up north.
Source: New Straits Times