ISKANDAR PUTERI (BERNAMA) – Defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) kicked off their 2020 Malaysia League campaign on a high note after defeating 2019 FA Cup champions Kedah 1-0 in a match to wrest the Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Cup at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium on Friday night.
The sole goal of the match, through defender Brazilian Mauricio dos Santos Nascimento at the end of the first half, saw the Southern Tigers winning the trophy for the third consecutive time since 2018.
JDT head coach Benjamin Mora said it was a tough night to defeat Kedah.
“It was full of adrenaline and stress but we managed to go out there and give a good fight. For me it was a very difficult game. Kedah has improved a lot since the last game we played against them.
“It was not easy to read what they were going to do. Fortunately, we had a very good defence and created opportunities,” said the Mexican-born coach.
JDT have also won the cup in 2015 and 2016. All the sweeter, Mauricio was crowned as the Best Player of the match.
As champions, JDT took home the cup which was presented by Johor Chief Minister Datuk Ir Hasni Mohammad.
Playing in front of 34,000 supporters spurred the Southern Tigers squad to hunt for a win but several attempts to breach the defence of the Red Eagle squad failed. The Red Eagle shield was ably led by Singapore international Muhammad Shakir Hamzah.
Nevertheless, the endless onslaught launched by JDT eventually bore fruit after Mauricio headed in a pass from Gonzalo Cabrera.
Subsequently, both teams exchanged attacks after attacks but failed to score until the whistle for the end of the game was blown by referee, Razlan Joffri Ali.