FourFourTwo’s FA Cup semi-final preview: Can JDT and PKNS turn things around?
Johor Darul Takzim vs Kedah (1-2)
Sat Apr 30 | Larkin Stadium | 9pm
Billed as: JDT’s domestic pride stake
The lowdown: The Red Eagles handed the Southern Tigers their first domestic defeat this season in the first leg at Alor Setar and threatened to record consecutive wins over Mario Gomez’s men when the two teams met in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) last weekend.
Ultimately the reward of this match is a place in the final but for JDT, this match is part of their efforts to compete in a third-straight AFC Cup campaign next year. The FA Cup winners gain a place in the second-tier continental tournament while the league champions enter the Asian Champions League playoffs.
With JDT expected to complete their hat-trick of MSL titles come the end of the season, other MSL aspirants will be wishing JDT defeat Kedah and go on to win the FA Cup as AFC Cup qualification will then go to the MSL runners-up.
JDT have only reached one final in their history but that ended in defeat after Kelantan’s Nor Farhan Muhammad’s early strike proved to be the only goal in the 2013 final.
Kedah, who are eager to reach their second consecutive domestic Cup final following their 2-0 defeat to Selangor in the Malaysia Cup final last year, have won the FA Cup three times in four final appearances.
Team news: The engine room battle was mainly where the action occured in their previous two meetings and it will be interesting to see how Tan Cheng Hoe’s men perform without influential midfielder Liridon Krasniqi and 2016 breakout star, Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik, due to suspension.
Krasniqi ran circles around Malaysian captain Safiq Rahim and his Singaporean counterpart Hariss Harun in the first leg while Amirul protected the back-four.
Baddrol Bakhtiar is expected to move from the flanks to his natural central role while Syazwan Tajuddin will return to the starting line-up.
The hosts are with less headaches after resting almost everyone in the AFC Cup win over Ayeyawady United on Wednesday.
The likes of key players Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Juan Martin Lucero, Safiq, Hariss and Marcos Antonio are well rested and that can only mean trouble for Tan’s weakened line-up.
Player to watch: Jorge Pereyra Diaz (JDT)
FourFourTwo Prediction: JDT 3 Kedah 1