Johor Darul Ta’zim have inched themselves closer to a seventh consecutive Liga Super Malaysia title after edging out closest competitors Terengganu FC 1-0 at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium on Friday night. An early goal from Safawi Rasid ensured that Benjamin Mora’s men are now nine points clear off the Turtles with four games to go until the end of the season.
The Matchweek 7 encounter between JDT and Terengganu at Kuala Terengganu serves as an intriguing encounter as Nafuzi Zain’s Terengganu were the Southern Tigers’ closest rivals on the Liga Super table. A win on Friday night for Terengganu would not only boost their continental hopes, but it would provide them with a glimmer of hope in the Liga Super title race, after last week’s 1-0 defeat away to Melaka United had considerably dented their aspirations for league silverware.
Despite playing away at the cavernous Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium, JDT immediately showed their prowess in the opening minutes of the match after Diogo had threatened Sharmiza Yusoff’s goal in the 3rd minute. The Southern Tigers soon followed that up with the opening goal of the match in the 5th minute, after a mistake by Montenegrin defender Argzim Redzovic allowed Safawi to intercept the back-pass meant for Sharmiza and beat the bewildered Terengganu keeper, before Safawi proceeded to tap the ball into the empty net to give his team the lead.
JDT then proceeded to pepper the Terengganu defense for that all-important second goal that would kill off the game, however the Terengganu defense got their act together and denied the Southern Tigers a number of times to keep themselves alive in the game. Unfortunately for the hosts, at the other end of the pitch, Terengganu’s attackers were unable to penetrate JDT’s defenses, allowing the league leaders to retain their advantage all the way into full-time.
There were a few moments of controversy within the match though, as Terengganu had a number of penalty claims being denied by the referee, while JDT felt that Terengganu’s Dominique Da Sylva should be sent off after he had kicked a JDT player in the chest during the first half.
Friday’s other Liga Super matches saw an early Shahrel Fikri goal ensuring a 1-0 win for Perak FA over UiTM FC at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh, while Selangor FA and Melaka played out a 1-1 draw at the UiTM Stadium in Shah Alam. The results meant that Terengganu slip to 4th place in the Liga Super table, while Perak, who were obliterated 7-0 by JDT last week, move up to 2nd. Despite receiving a 3-point deduction due to financial issues before the COVID-19 suspension, Melaka’s point away at Selangor ensured that the Mousedeers are 3rd on the table.
Matchweek 7 continues on Saturday with FELDA United taking on Kedah FA at the Tun Abdul Razak Stadium in Jengka, Pahang FA welcoming PDRM FA to the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan, and Petaling Jaya City hosting Sabah FA at the Petaling Jaya Stadium.