Johor DT’s hopes of winning a fourth consecutive Malaysia Super League title was handed a major boost today after they clinched a crucial 2-0 away win over rivals Pahang.
Goals from Gonzalo Cabrera and Natxo Insa were more than enough for the Southern Tigers to beat Pahang for the third time this year, in front of a decent crowd at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan.
Within two minutes into the game, Mohammad Ghaddar showed excellent awareness to find Gonzalo Cabrera from the left edge of the box, and Cabrera made no mistakes by firing home to make it 1-0 on the night.
Pahang attempted to muster a quick comeback, but they struggled to create tangible chances in the final third, with the likes of Matheus Alves and Mohamadou Sumareh being marked carefully by JDT players.
The second half was far more eventful, with Ghaddar’s goal being disallowed for a foul on Jae Won on the 46th minute. The comeback was almost achieved 20 minutes later when Matheus’s header found the back of the net. Unfortunately for the home side, it was ruled out for offside.
Two fresh players in Nurridzuan Abu Hassan and Joseph Kalang Tie were introduced to help Pahang salvage the game, but a late strike from ex-Levante man Natxo Insa effectively killed the game, allowing Ulisses Morais’ men to clinch their 11th victory of the season.
END OF PAHANG’S TITLE HOPES?
The outcome of this match means Johor DT are now 12 points ahead of Pahang on the Malaysia Super League table. Kedah have pipped Pahang to second spot on the table, and their nine-point gap means they are now JDT’s closest challenger, with seven games left in the season.
For Dollah Salleh and his men, this defeat comes as yet another frustrating facet of their season. They started the season strongly, losing only twice in their first nine games, besides clinching big wins over Penang (6-1) and T-Team (5-0). But midway through April, their form dipped heavily, resulting in them dropping points in five of their last six games, including tonight’s defeat.
12 points is a huge gap – its equivalent to four defeats. An optimists will tell you that nothing is impossible in football, but unless JDT go through a tragic turn of events in the next few months, it’s difficult to see them losing four out of their last seven games. They lost the FA Cup final in dramatic fashion against Kedah and their MSL title hopes are probably over. Time for the Elephants to completely switch their attention towards the Malaysia Cup?
FULL MSL RESULTS (11/7/2017)
Sarawak 1-3 Felda United
Pahang 0-2 Johor DT
Penang 0-2 PKNS FC
Melaka United 2-4 Kedah
T-Team 3-1 Kelantan
Perak 0-1 Selangor