Southern Tigers lift Malaysia Cup to complete treble

Photo from Johor Southern Tigers FB page

KUALA LUMPUR – Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) created their own history when they clinched a treble for the first time after defeating Selangor FC 2-1 in the Malaysia Cup final at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil tonight.

JDT’s third Malaysia Cup victory since their formation in 2013 meant the Southern Tigers have made a clean sweep of all four trophies at stake this season, having won the season-opener Charity Shield, the FA Cup and Super League.

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In tonight’s highly-charged showdown in front of about 80,000 passionate fans of both teams who turned the stadium into a sea of red-and-blue (JDT) and red-and-yellow (Selangor), coach Hector Bidoglio’s Southern Tigers got the goals through import strikers Bergson Da Silva and Fernando Forestieri.

The Southern Tigers deserve credit for staging a magnificent fightback after the Red Giants, under the tutelage of head coach Tan Cheng Hoe, had shot ahead through a penalty taken by Herlison Caion De Souza Ferreira.

The Red Giants, playing in their first Malaysia Cup final since 2016, were clearly the better side in the first half, dominating the proceedings with a series of dangerous attacks while JDT struggled to find their rhythm.

Selangor had two good chances in the first 10 minutes but fluffed their lines.

First, Muhammad Mukhairi Ajmal Mahadi shot wide after a swift counter-attack in the second minute and then, in the 10th minute, Caion beat the offside trap but failed to strike the ball cleanly when he was one-on-one with JDT goalkeeper Mohd Farizal Marlias.

Eight minutes later, it was Selangor who came closest to scoring again but the speedy Hein Htet Aung’s powerful shot from inside the penalty box hit JDT defender Muhamad Feroz Baharudin.

But there was no stopping Selangor in the 45th minute when JDT defender Matthew Davies fouled Caion in the box, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot, which the Brazilian cooly dispatched.

However, it was a short-lived joy for the Red Giants as the Southern Tigers responded in brilliant fashion two minutes later when Bergson equalised from close range off a corner kick.

The second half, though, saw a different JDT, who looked more composed and coordinated as they controlled the game, causing Selangor to work extra hard to thwart their attacks.

JDT’s attacking game in the second half finally paid dividends in the 59th minute when Selangor goalkeeper Mohd Khairulazhan Mohd Khalid palmed a shot away, only for Forestieri to latch on to it and curl a beauty into the top corner. 

Selangor, finding themselves chasing the game, brought on two substitute strikers – Ahmad Danial Ahmad Asri and Muhamad Syahir Bashah – but the JDT backline stood firm.

Towards the end of the match, Ahmad Danial’s close-range effort was saved by Mohd Farizal while Bergson also failed to bag his second goal of the match when his pile-driver from outside the box was palmed away by Mohd Khairulazhan.

With tonight’s win, JDT, who also lifted the Malaysia Cup in 2017 and 2019, managed to make amends for last season’s Malaysia Cup final loss to Kuala Lumpur City FC.

As for Selangor, their quest for Malaysia Cup title number 34 continues, having last clinched it in 2015. – Bernama