Wednesday, 27 July 2016
Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) continues their ominous march towards their 3rd Super League title on the trot as they edged Kelantan 1-0 at Tan Sri Hj Hassan Yunos Stadium. The tight score line did not reflect the large amount of chances that JDT created but in the end, it was enough to gift the home side another 3 points.
Mario Gomez restored his best XI to the starting line-up for this match as JDT seek their 6thconsecutive wins in the Super League. Martin Lucero, Marcos Antonio and Pereyra Diaz joins former internationals in Aidil Zafuan and Safiq Rahim in the start list. As for Velizar Popov, he made several changes, opting for a back 3 of Faris Shah, Norhafiz Zamani and Nik Shahrul Azim.
Unsurprisingly, JDT were the first to threaten when Safiq found himself with space on the left, cuts past 2 Kelantan players before unleashing a venomous strike that cannoned off the crossbar in the 11thminute. JDT were bossing the game and created more chances that left The Red Warriors anxiously protecting their goal.
In the 23rd minute, Lucero received the ball just inside of the penalty box and lay off the perfect pass to his fellow countryman, Diaz. However the latter chose power instead of accuracy and saw his shot went sky high with the goal at his mercy. Lucero would also earned a chance just 10 minutes later, this time Diaz returning the favour but the former’s shot was blocked just in time by Faris.
Kelantan were left fighting for scraps in the limited time that they were in possession of the ball. The home side kept the likes of Blazhe Ilijoski and Wander Luis at bay, giving them only pot shots from the distance. Unfortunately for the away side, none of the shot gave Izham Tarmizi any trouble.
JDT would earn one final chance in the first half when in the 36th minute, the energetic Azinee Taib delivers an inch perfect chip to an onrushing Lucero, who managed to nip in ahead of the chasing Nik Shahrul. Just like Safiq before him, Lucero could only hit the bar from an acute angle.
After weathering the heavy storm in the opening half, the Kelantan door was finally broken down early in the second half. Just 2 minutes in the second period, JDT took the lead. Safiq slipped Azamuddin in on the right hand side and the winger delivered a sumptuous cross for Diaz to head home. The goal was made easier by the fact that Khairul Fahmi inexplicably wandered off his line during the build-up.
Soon after, Kelantan could have earned themselves an undeserved equaliser when Ilijoski was gifted the ball midway in JDT’s half. With an eye on Izham, the Macedonian spotted the keeper off his line. His decision to chip the keeper was a good one, the execution was just slightly off.
Although JDT were in total control of the match, 2 decisions that wasn’t made could have easily turned the tide for Popov’s side. Two decisions from the referee in not taking card actions against former international in S. Kunanlan and then even more unbelievably when Azamuddin dived in off the ground with his studs connecting on Noor Hazrul.
With the game still tight with just the solitary goal lead to the home side, had Kelantan gained the man advantage, perhaps Popov could have afforded for his team to be a little bit more expansive than intended. While numerical advantage doesn’t always translates to wins or draws, we were left wondering the “what ifs”. It wouldn’t have matter had Wander Luis’ fantastic long distance shot in injury time had found the back of the net. Despite having little to do, Izham did well to claw the shot away to earn himself a clean sheet.
Not the vintage JDT performance for the ages but the reigning champions did just enough to justify them earning all the points tonight. The constant chopping and changing the line-up would not have helped to increase the understanding and perhaps that could come back to haunt them later in the season.
JDT: Izham Tarmizi, S. Kunanlan, Marcos Antonio, Aidil Zafuan, Fazly Mazlan (Azrif Nasrulhaq 72’), Hariss Harun, Safiq Rahim, Azamuddin Akil (Amirul Hadi Zainal 79’), Azinee Taib (Amri Yahyah 56’), Pereyra Diaz, Martin Lucero
Kelantan: Khairul Fahmi, Faris Shah, Norhafiz Zamani, Nik Shahrul Azim, Morgaro Gomis, Brendan Gan, Wan Zack Haikal, Daudsu Jamaluddin (Indra Putra 73’), Noor Hazrul Mustafa (Manaf Mamat 80’), Wander Luis Junior, Blazhe Ilijoski
Source by: www.goal.com