Brazilian striker Bergson was on the scoresheet once again as Johor Darul Ta’zim notched their seventh win of the season with a straightforward 2-0 win away at Sri Pahang FC on Friday’s 2021 Liga Super Malaysia Matchweek 9 action. Bergson, on loan at the Southern Tigers from Brazilian top flight side Fortaleza, scored his 9th goal of the season as the Tok Gajah were left sinking into the relegation zone by the league leaders.
Matches between JDT and Pahang were often touted as potential title deciders, as the two sides were fierce rivals who vie against each other for the Liga Super title since 2013. Pahang, alongside Kedah Darul Aman and FELDA United, were seen as the closest contenders that JDT have got for the Liga Super trophy after Tunku Ismail Idris had taken over the club in 2013. Matches between JDT and Pahang were often dubbed the “Malaysian El Clasico” due to the sheer hatred that both teams had for each other and the fervent atmosphere created by fans of both teams in each meeting between these two.
However, coming into the 2021 season, the two sides have quite contrasting fortunes. JDT are gunning for an eighth consecutive Liga Super title and are going stronger than ever, while Pahang are currently struggling massively, coming into Matchweek 9 second bottom of the league. American head coach Thomas Dooley was rested after two matchweeks and Dollah Salleh was brought back into the fold in an attempt to salvage the ship. The recovery job was tougher than expected though and Pahang are staring down the barrel of relegation, with Dollah’s charges having lost three of their 6 games so far after the 57-year old’s return. Making things worse, the Tok Gajah have only won one game from those six.
Predictably JDT were backed to steamroll Pahang in Friday’s encounter and the Southern Tigers duly fulfilled those predictions. JDT’s front three of Gonzalo Cabrera, Bergson, and Arif Aiman were too much for the Pahang defense to handle, however it was a midfielder in Leandro Velazquez who opened the scoring for JDT at the Darul Makmur Stadium in the 23rd minute. A skirmish within the Pahang penalty area saw Bergson passing the ball short towards Afiq Fazail, who in turn fed Leandro the ball, allowing the Argentine to smash the ball home past a hapless Zarif Irfan.
Pahang’s struggles were then confounded in the 70th minute after defender Ezanie Salleh received his second yellow card in the 70th minute, before Bergson killed any hopes of a Tok Gajah comeback in the fourth minute of injury time. The Brazilian added to his growing tally of goals after intelligently playing the ball past a couple of Pahang defenders before finishing the move off with a powerful close-ranged shot that left Zarif beaten once again.
Friday’s other Matchweek 9 game saw former Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya man Makan Konate scoring a superb goal in the 88th minute to earn Terengganu FC a hard-fought 1-0 win over Kuala Lumpur City at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium.
Matchweek 9 continues on Saturday with strugglers Sabah FC and UiTM FC locking horns at the Likas Stadium and Perak FC hosting Kedah at the Perak Stadium.