# But no one can take credit away from new AFC Cup champions JDT
# Euphoria of JDT’s success rumbles in Johor
# Bangsa Johor celebrate in their own way
# Tears of joy for JDT and tears of sadness for Istiklol in Dushanbe
Malaysian football has been given a shot in the arm by Johor Darul Takzim – the newly crowned AFC Cup champions with their 1-0 win over Tajik club FC Istiklol in the final played in Dushanbe on Saturday.
The 25,000 capacity Republican Central Stadium in the Tajikistan capital included some 500 die hard JDT fans, Despite being outnumbered by the home fans the JDT fans in their famous red and blue colours made their presence felt.
Tears were shed in Dushanbe. Tears flowed freely. JDT players, officials and fans alike shed tears of joy JDT while Istiklol players, officials and fans alike also shed tears – but it were tears of sadness.
Istiklol had three goals disallowed – either for offside or for an infringement. But that is football and in Istiklol coach Mubin Ergashev’s own words “the referee’s decision cannot be questioned” and it was JDT who triumphed with a 1-0 win.
The winner was scored by JDT’s Argentine who made the best of the opportunity to drill home an unstoppable shot that came his way past a sea of legs after Istiklol’s Serbian goalkeeper Nikola Stosic could only punch the ball away from a Safiq Rahim corner on 23 minutes.
A shattered Ergashev, while congratulating JDT for their win, said: “Out of the three goals ruled offside, I believe one was a certain goal. But the match officials ruled otherwise.”
After this JDT had to fend off Istiklol’s continuous onslaught but in goalkeeper Farizal Marlias the Southern Tigers had a hero who turned everything away that came his way although he was beaten thrice.
By winning the AFC Cup – the first Malaysian team to do that – JDT have added another feather in their cap. Now JDT want to move up the ranks in the regional tournament continental competitions and next want to play in the AFC Champions League.
JDT, however, will have to come through the playoffs as there is no provision for an automatic place in the Champions League for the AFC Cup winners.
The last time a Malaysian club played in a AFC was way back in 1967 when Selangor reached the finals in the inaugural Asian Club Championships.
On a night of glory JDT skipper Safiq Rahim walked away with the Most Valuable Player (MPV) award.
Istiklol won the Fairplay Award. South China’s Daniel McBreen and Ayeyawady United’s Riste Naumov – with eight goals each – won the top scorer’s award.
Pahang’s Dickson Nwakaeme and JDT’s Luciano Figueroa ended the competition with six and five goals respectively.
AFC CUP ROLL OF HONOUR
Champions: Johor Darul Takzim (Malaysia)
Runners up: FC Istiklol (Tajikistan)
Most Valuable Player: Safig Rahim (JDT)
Top scorer: Daniel MCBreen (South China, Hong Kong)
Riste Naumov (Ayeyawady United, Myanmar)
(Eight goals each)