Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) manager Luciano Figueroa hailed the Southern Tigers’ 2-0 victory over Pahang FA in the Malaysia Cup second-leg quarterfinals as their best game of the year, after seeing Safawi Rasid bag an all-important double on Saturday.
“I have said before, that JDT will play this style of football. With the ball on the ground, and to move forward quickly to score goals. For me, this was our best game of the year. Congratulations to all the players,” said Figueroa.
The defending champions will go on to meet Terengganu FC in the two-legged semifinals after the 3-1 aggregate victory over the Elephants.
After a rather lackluster group stage where they only confirmed passage to the last eight after beating MIFA, JDT have begun to pick up the pace in the knockout round.
They were unlucky not to return from Darul Makmur Stadium with a 1-0 win last week after Safuwan Baharudin’s header denied them at the death.
But in front of a boisterous capacity crowd at Larkin Stadium, JDT went at their opponents from kick-off and got the opening goal in the first minute through Safawi’s composed finish.
They never looked in danger of lapsing from then on, and Safawi hammered the final blow in the second half with another well taken strike.
The young forward, who has now scored four in the tournament, said the big turnout made the difference.
“We had done well in the first-leg as well, but in front of our home fans, we were fired up to win. We had planned to attack them from the start, and as a result we got that all important goal.”
Another local player who is proving to be a revelation is Ahmad Hazwan Bakri.
The striker, who started in the absence of Fernando Marquez, put on another sensational show and was unlucky not to score.
“I told him after the game what a fantastic job he did. He moved a lot, which made it difficult for the defenders. He did not score, but played very well,” said Figueroa of Hazwan.
JDT will go on to face another in-form team in Terengganu, who overcame Felda United FC 6-4 on aggregate.
Sabah FA are also in the semifinals after edging Kelantan FA on away goals after both teams were tied 2-2.
They will face the winners of Perak FA-PKNS FC, who play on Sunday with a goalless score from the first-leg.
Photo Credit: Johor DT