Johor Darul Ta’azim (JDT) lost their first game of the season after losing 2-1 to Kedah in the semi-final first leg match of the Superbest Power FA Cup at the Darul Aman Stadium tonight.
Kedah head coach Tan Cheng Hoe instructed his players to have the confidence to control possession prior to the game, fielded his best eleven with the likes or Liridon Krasniqi, Carlos Kahe, Sandro and Baddrol Bakhtiar, who just returned to the team after suffering an injury on national team duty. JDT boss Mario Gomez wanted his team to be in a better position when they face Kedah in the return leg at the Larkin Stadium as he brought back Farizal Marlias in goal and kept his faith in Juan Lucero, who was deployed up front.
The atmosphere before kick-off was electrifying as a sea of green and blue filled all the seats in the stadium. The tickets for the semi-final tie were sold out in just a couple of hours.
The Red Hawks started the game well as they were the more dominant side from the get go after Liridon Krasniqi and co. conjured up a number of attacks. They eventually opened the scoring on the 15th minute when Bang Seung-Hwan headed down a free-kick to set up Farhan Roslan, who got to the ball first before Azamuddin Akil to put it past Farizal Marlias.
The Southern Tigers started gaining control of the game with Hariss Harun and Safiq Rahim linking up plays between Juan Martin Lucero, Jorge Pereyra Diaz and the wingers. Argentinian playmaker Pereyra Diaz received the ball from Amri Yahyah on the edge of the penalty box before finding his compatriot Juan Lucero to score the equalizer on the 27th minute.
Amri Yahyah tried to extend the lead when his shot from 25 yards out just flew above Kedah goalkeeper Farhan Abu Bakar’s goalpost on the 34th minute. Five minutes later, a Kedah corner found Khairul Helmi but the team captain could not get his attempt on target.
On the verge of half-time, Shazuan Ashraf whipped in a cross for Carlos Kahe and the Brazilian striker laid it off for Sandro da Silva, who struck it from distance to regain his side’s lead. The home fans in the stadium went wild as they ended the half in a winning position.
The second half kicked off and the away side instantly piled the pressure on Tan Cheng Hoe’s men. Amri Yahyah and Jorge Pereyra Diaz both saw their shots went a few inches wide.
Safiq Rahim then beat Farhan Abu Bakar from a free-kick, but the ex-Harimau Muda A goalkeeper would have been grateful to his crossbar for stopping the ball from going in.
The tempo the the match slowed down a fair bit after the referee had to stop the flow of play a number of ties due to dangerous tackles and fouls from the Malaysia Super League (MSL) and Malaysia Premier League (MPL) winners. However, Azniee Taib, who was brought on as a replacement for Azamuddin Akil, almost levelled the game but his shot just flew off target.
Fakri Saarani could have scored a third goal ten minutes from time but his shot went wide.
The second leg will be at the Larkin Stadium in Johor Bahru on April 30.