It was not the best of the finals but Johor Darul Takim (JDT) was crowned the new Malaysia Cup champions with a 3-0 win over Kedah at the National Stadium, Bukit Jalil on Saturday.
Kedah was crippled by suspensions and a spate of injuries – which they could ill afford against a team like JDT with enough depth on the bench. The Southern Tigers have won the Malaysian Super League title six times in a row which speaks team’s consistency although it is only their second Malaysia Cup title after winning it in 2017.
The Red Eagles were well aware that it will be an uphill task against JDT with Brazilian Renan Alves and national trainee Rizal Ghazali suspended because of yellow cards. Azmeer Yusoff left the field in tears after picking up a knee injury.
Before the kickoff, Fernando Rodriguez added more woes and Kedah’s Singaporean coach Aidil Sharin Sahak was left with a bigger task.
“There is only so much you can do with a team hit by suspensions and injuries. Your backline is crippled and your scoring machine is injured. Still, I am pleased and happy with the commitment of the players in the final. That’s football…things don’t go the way you had planned.
“Despite the odds against them they gave their best and I am proud of them. I cannot blame the players for the defeat. We have to move on and look forward to the new season,” said Aidil who took the Red Eagles to the FA Cup title and a fourth place in the league with a new-look team.
Aidil, however, admitted that JDT’s controversial second goal affected his players’ “mentally” after the referee allowed the goal. Safawi Rasid’s freekick in the 35th minute saw the ball hit the bar and was deemed to have crossed the line. Kedah players protested the goal.
“JDT’s second goal killed us. It left the players down and it affected their game overall,” added Aidil.
Aidil’s counterpart – Mexican Benjamin Mora, concurred that Kedah’s misfortune helped JDT win the final.
“To a certain extent, we rode on a weakened Kedah to win the final. This prevented Kedah from executing their game plan…we did not allow Kedah to settle,” said Mora, delighted with JDT’s third title this year. JDT also won the Charity Shield this year.
Kedah skipper Baddrol Bakhtiar summed it up for his team. Ït was not our day and we accept the defeat”. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH