Kedah were no match for Johor Darul Takzim as the Southern Tigers romped home to a comfortable 3-0 win to lift the Malaysia Cup for the second time.at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday
JDT won the prestigious Malaysia Cup for the first time in 2017 – and it was also Kedah at the receiving end then with the Johor outfit winning 2-0.
On Saturday it was a dominant JDT who had more cause to celebrate when international Safawi Rasid was named the Man of the Match in the final for his inspiring performance.
Nothing went right for Kedah for this year’s final after defenders Brazilian Renan Alves and Rizal Ghazali were ruled out of the final due to suspensions. Things got worse for the Red Eagles when Fernando Rodriguez picked up a hamstring injury, forcing coach Aidil Sharin Sahak to change his match strategies.
It did not stop at that for Kedah. Fifteen minutes into the match, watched by a mammoth crowd of 85,000 at the stadium, leftback Azmeer Yusoof trooped off the pitch in tears with a knee injury after a clash with Safawi. He was replaced by Norfiqrie Talib.
The match was only three minutes old when Kedah escaped conceding a goal when Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak’s smashed his header against the bar off a freekick by Safawi. That set the tone for the match as Kedah’s crippled backline tried their best to stop the marauding Southern Tigers.
All Kedah could do in the first 15 minutes was to pick up three yellow cards with referee Nazmi Nasaruddin booking Zaquan Adha, Jonatan Bauman and Shakir Hamzah.
An injury to JDT’s Diogo Luis Santo on 26 minutes turned out to be a blessing for the six-time Malaysian Super League champions.
His replacement Syafiq Ahmad was on the field for only a minute when he played the ball to Gonzalo Cabrera who pulled it back for Leandro Velazquez who sent the Kedah net dancing with a first-timer. JDT 1-0.
It was 2-0 for JDT after 35 minutes and this time it was Safawi who got his name onto the score sheet from a free kick. The ball hit the bar and bounced behind the goal line with goalkeeper Ifwat Akmal rooted.
Any hopes of a fightback by Kedah vanished into thin air when Syafiq’s free header off a cross by Afiq Fazail saw Ifwat picking up the ball from inside his net for the third time in the 58th minute.
Her Majesty Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah presented the Malaysia Cup to JDT skipper Hariss Harun as the celebrations got underway for the Southern Tigers. Apart from the Super League title, JDT also won the Charity Shield this year. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH