Home United captain and right-back Juma’at Jantan was taken completely by surprise when he was notified of his call-up to the Singapore national team squad, after an absence of two years.
The 32-year-old was part of the centralised training squad but he never expected to make the final cut for Singapore’s home friendly match against Myanmar on 24 March and the World Cup / Asian Cup Qualifier Group E fixture in Tehran against Afghanistan.
In fact, his last call-up for the Lions came way back in 2014 and he admitted he had to ponder over whether to accept Bernd Stange’s invitation.
“It was really a big surprise. I am already 32, and I haven’t been called up since the game against Oman in March 2014, so I really thought I was too old to represent the country anymore,” Juma’at told FourFourTwo.
“After receiving the call, I was still in two minds. I had to discuss with my family members before I decided to accept the call -up.”
Juma’at who has been in impressive form, starting all five league games for the Protectors this season, credited his return to prominence due to the excellent fitness regime at Home.
“I suffered a very bad hamstring injury when I was playing for the LionsXII in 2012. The next two years were a nightmare, as the injury would keep recurring. I would return for one game and then miss the next three games,” he added.
“But medical and sports performance teams at Home United, they have really taken care of me and helped me to stay injury free so I have been able to regain my confidence and play consistently for the first team.”
After being capped 29 times for Singapore and turning out for the LionsXII in 2012 in between 14 seasons in the S.League, Juma’at has pretty much seen it all.
But he shared that this call-up has refueled his desire for glory, as he aim to exit the international stage on a high by being part of Singapore’s 2016 AFF Championship squad.
“It’s really a great encouragement to me, to return to the national team at my age, after such a long time. I hope it will also motivate the other players in the S.League to believe that they also can play for Singapore.
“I am taking it as a challenge to myself , to give my best in every training session, stay in the team and play in the Suzuki Cup (2016 AFF Championship) at the end of the year. That would really be a perfect end to my career.”