Southeast Asia Malaysia

Plucky Phoenixes Delay JDT’s Title Celebrations

Runaway Liga Super Malaysia leaders Johor Darul Ta’zim were forced to postpone their inevitable title coronation after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Petaling Jaya City at the Petaling Jaya Stadium on Friday night. A JDT win in their Matchweek 9 clash would ensure a seventh straight Liga Super title for the Southern Tigers, however the Phoenixes of Petaling Jaya put up a brave and plucky performance to ensure that JDT would drop points for only the second time this season.

A rain-soaked Petaling Jaya became a silent witness to K. Devan’s PJ City once again becoming a thorn in Benjamin Mora’s JDT side. Having being responsible for JDT’s only league defeat in the 2019 season, PJ City were determined to repeat that feat this time out. This was proven by their sheer levels of determination displayed throughout the game. Despite going down in the 35th minute thanks to the ever-prolific Safawi Rasid, PJ City refused to back down and stung back two minutes after JDT’s opener – with Christie Jayaseelan taking advantage of a rebound off the goalpost to smash in a shot that beat JDT goalie Farizal Marlias for the equalizer.

PJ City then went on to took the lead in the 45th minute after Farizal had fouled Washington Brandao inside the penalty box – denying the Brazilian a clear-cut chance at goal. PJ City captain K. Gurusamy made no mistake with his penalty, earning his team a 2-1 advantage over the league leaders with the end of the first half in sight. However, as the match enters stoppage time, JDT got a penalty of their own after Safawi was pushed inside the box by Filemon Anyie. Gonzalo Cabrera was tasked in dispatching the penalty and he did just exactly that, smashing home the spot kick past PJ City goalkeeper Kalamullah Al-Hafiz.

The 2-2 scoreline stayed that way at half-time and despite both PJ City and JDT playing 45 more minutes of football, there were no separating these two with no further goals being scored. The solitary point meant that JDT would have to pause their inevitable title celebrations for at least one more matchweek, while PJ City would gladly take this important point to lift themselves up from the lower half of the Liga Super table.

On Friday’s other Liga Super matches, Shahrel Fikri was the man of the moment for Perak FA as the Malaysia international bagged himself four goals in Perak’s 5-1 demolition of FELDA United at the Perak Stadium in Ipoh, a result that meant Perak had overtaken Kedah FA to occupy second place in the Liga Super table. Former Selangor FA and Kuala Lumpur FA man Guilherme De Paula was also on target for Perak, while former NorthEast United and Suphanburi FC man Nicholas Velez scored FELDA’s consolation goal.

At the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium, hosts Terengganu FC were back at their very best as they crushed last-placed PDRM FA 4-0, a result that confirmed relegation back to the Liga Premier Malaysia for PDRM. The Cops, who were promoted into the Liga Super last season, have yet to win any of their 9 games so far, drawing two and losing the other seven. The fact that PDRM were slapped with a three points deduction due to financial issues meant that they were on minus points for a good part of this season, with the Cops currently having a mere -1 point to their name. Braces from Terengganu captain Lee Tuck and Singapore international Faris Ramli effectively sealed PDRM’s fate and they bid adieu to the Liga Super.

Matchweek 9 continues on Saturday, with Pahang FA hosting Kedah at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan, while a Selangor Derby will take place at the UiTM Stadium in Shah Alam as temporary tenants Selangor FA take on stadium owners UiTM FC, with the latter eying a finish in the Liga Super’s top half after a remarkable campaign this season.