Dominic Tan's promising 2018 start just got better after JDT announce Portugal stint

Malaysia Under-23 centre-back Dominic Tan impressed many as he improved game by game at the recent AFC Under-23 Championship and there's now more reason to cheer, with the youngster set for a year-long loan stint in Portugal. He speaks exclusively to FourFourTwo about the move...

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Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) have confirmed that Tan and Syamer Kutty Abba will leave for Portuguese third division club Vilaverdensen FC on Friday.

Tan, who started in all four matches until Malaysia got knocked out of the AFC Under-23 quarter-final last week, believes the opportunity is one where he can further his credentials and return a better centre-back for club and country.

But, the former Malaysia Under-19 skipper wasn't surprised by the announcement and said it was something that convinced him of a move to the Southern Tigers in 2016.

"I am definitely grateful to be given an opportunity by JDT and Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim to go abroad and gain more experience that I cannot gain here," Tan told FourFourTwo.

"I have always dreamt of playing abroad and that was one of the reasons I choose to sign for JDT ... because not only were they the best in Malaysia, I was confident that a stint like this was going to happen.

"I am going to do my best there and when I come back I want to give back by doing well for both JDT and Malaysia."

Tan, who was named in FourFourTwo's 20 Under-20 players at the start of last year, moved to JDT II ahead of the 2016 season after shining for Harimau Muda C. He struck a good partnership with Baihakki Khaizan and was soon promoted to the senior team in the mid-season transfer window, where he became back-up Marcos Antonio and Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak.

He didn't have the best of years in 2017 as he got little playing time and looked shaky when given the opportunity. Tan also missed the cut for the SEA Games but returned to the Malaysia Under-23 squad for the AFC competition this month.

Tan did not have the best of starts as Malaysia suffered a 4-1 defeat to Iraq in the opening match. He picked up his performance in the following matches as Ong Kim Swee's side reached the last eight after holding Jordan and defeating Saudi Arabia. They lost 2-1 to South Korea in the quarter-final after a close contested match.

"I am happy with the start of the new year. Honestly, I could have done better against Iraq and South Korea ... but to be given the trust by coach Ong really gave me confidence to do well.

"And now given a chance to go on a stint, I have to say this year has started of well," said the 20-year old.