The 2020 Liga Super Malaysia had its proper restart on Friday night with the commencement of three Matchweek 5 ties, headlined by the “Malaysian El Clasico” between third-placers Pahang FA and league leaders Johor Darul Ta’zim at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan, Pahang. JDT raced to a 3-0 lead in the opening 35 minutes however Pahang managed to claw two goals back before half-time. Unfortunately for the Tok Gajah, they were unable to break through the Southern Tigers’ defense even further, which allowed JDT to leave Kuantan with all three points.
Much of the discussion around JDT in recent days was about the Liga Super leaders’ discussion with Portuguese Liga NOS side Portimonense in regards of JDT’s rising star Safawi Rasid, who Portimonense were interested in. With Safawi seemingly set to a move to Portugal, in his place in the JDT starting lineup for Friday was debutant Muhammad Ramadhan Saifullah, a JDT academy graduate.
Immediately JDT proved themselves to be a formidable force, breaking the deadlock in just four minutes with a Leandro Velazquez free-kick. Dollah Salleh’s Tok Gajah side were punished further for their lethargic start in the 15th minute. Ramadhan proved himself to be a valuable asset for JDT in the long run after he made mincemeat out of the Pahang defenders, weaving through them before beating Pahang goalkeeper Sharbinee Allawee, who rushed out of his goal in a futile attempt to stop Ramadhan. Ramadhan easily outpaced his defenders as he slotted in JDT’s second of the night, marking a debut to remember for the 19-year old.
A third goal conceded was the last thing Pahang wanted after being 2-0 down after 15 minutes but unfortunately that was exactly what the Tok Gajah received in the 35th minute. Former Blackburn Rovers defender Herold Goulon was adjudged to had fouled Ramadhan within the Pahang penalty area, which left the referee no choice but to award JDT a penalty. Gonzalo Cabrera kept his cool and slotted home the penalty past Sharbinee, cementing a 3-0 lead for JDT.
Despite playing without their star man Mohamadou Sumareh, Pahang refused to give up that easily and closed the gap in the 40th minute. JDT goalkeeper Farizal Marlias made the fatal mistake of losing the ball in front of his goal to Mohd Faisal Abdul Halim, who had the easiest task of tapping in the ball into the empty net for the simplest of goals. The Tok Gajah then declared game on right on the stroke of half-time, with Goulon turning from villain to hero for Pahang with a powerful header that went past Marlias.
The second half saw no goals being scored and the scoreline remained at 3-2 in JDT’s favor as the referee blew for full-time. The three points meant that JDT remain unbeaten after 5 Liga Super matches, leading the way with 13 points to their name. Pahang, on the other hand, fell to 6th place with the defeat.
Elsewhere in the state of Pahang, hosts FELDA United fell to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of UiTM FC at the Tun Abdul Razak Stadium in Jengka, with Filipino international Mark Hartmann scoring the only goal of the game in the 38th minute. Hartmann’s goal was the former Ubon UMT United, Ratchaburi Mitr Phol, Suphanburi FC, and Nakhon Ratchasima Mazda man’s first goal in a UiTM shirt, having moved to the university side on loan from fellow Liga Super side Petaling Jaya City prior to Matchweek 4, just before the COVID-19 suspension of Malaysian football.
Meanwhile, a second-half goal from Ferris Danial ensured a 1-0 win for Melaka United over Perak FA at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh.
Matchweek 5 continues this Saturday with three more matches – Selangor FA hosting PJ City in a Selangor Derby at the UiTM Stadium in Shah Alam, Terengganu FC welcoming Sabah FA to the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Kuala Terengganu, and Kedah FA, who made the headlines for all the wrong reasons during the COVID-19 suspension with the financially-stricken Red Eagles failing to pay their players’ and staffs’ wages during that time, traveling to Kuala Lumpur to take on PDRM FA at the KLFA Stadium.