# State Government rewards JDT with RM2 million for winning AFC Cup

 # Malaysia Cup favourites JDT eye a place in the semis after a 1-1 draw in Selayang


IT would not have come at a better time for Johor Darul Takzim when the Johor State Government rewarded the team with RM2 million for winning the AFC Cup – the first Malaysian team to have won the Asian title.

The Southern Tiger beat Tajiskistan club FC Istiklol 1-0 in the AFC Cup final in Dushanbe on Oct 31 and in the process wrote football history – both in Malaysia and Asia.

It was the third title for the Johor team, having won the Charity Shield at the start of the season and retained the Malaysian Super League title which they first won in 2014.

And JDT are now hailed as firm favorites to add the prestigious Malaysia Cup to their tally. As they most consistent team in the country for now, JDT take on Felda United in their return-leg Malaysia Cup quarter-final match at the Larkin Stadium in Johor Bahru on Saturday.

The first-leg at the Selayang Stadium on Tuesday ended in a 1-1 stalemate – with substitute Amirul Hadi Zainal hitting the equaliser deep into three minutes of added time just when Felda looked like walking away with a 1-0 win after Thiago Augusto scored as early as the eighth minute.

JDT have not lost at Larkin since October 2013 and the only setback was this year was a 1-1 draw against Sarawak in a Malaysia Cup group match – which did not affect their status as they had already qualified for the quarter-finals as Group B champions much earlier.

Felda United coach Irfan Bakti knows of the “tough task” his Fighters face at Larkin but is keeping faith in his players to take the game to JDT to pull off an upset.

“I must admit that JDT are a tough nut to beat at home. They have a strong squad and they have depth on the bench, this is something which we lack. But in football anything can happen and there is still one half of the battle to be won,” said Irfan.

His JDT counterpart Mario Gomez is confident that his team will get a positive result at Larkin despite the draw in the first-leg. 

“It is an important match which we need to win to stay in the hunt. Felda is not an easy team and we expect a tough fight from them but we have set our sights on winning the Malaysia Cup and it is a good incentive for us to move forward with confidence,” said Gomez.

Last year Felda United and JDT crossed paths in the Malaysia Cup at the semi-final stage. Felda won the first leg played at home 4-3 but JDT turned the tables at the Larkin Stadium with a 3-1 win and advance 6-5 on aggregate.

At the Shah Alam Stadium it looks like a Selangor win and a place in the last four after the Red Giants beat Sarawak 2-1 in the first-leg at the State Stadium in Kuching.

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