Match Previews

Terengganu vs Johor Darul Ta'zim: Diaz to plot hosts' downfall

Malaysia Super League | Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium | Sat 27 Feb | 9pm 

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New coach, new hopes for Terengganu?

The lowdown

The match offers a chance to former Brisbane Roar boss Mike Mulvey to get things right for Terengganu after being handed the caretaker coach position, replacing Ahmad Yusof.

However, vast changes in terms of style are not to be expected as Mulvey was Ahmad’s assistant before the latter found his head on the chopping block for the team’s poor form in their last three matches.

Terengganu’s team manager Marzuki Sulong also took responsibility and his resignation was accepted by the FA.

But Mulvey comes with experience after having led Brisbane Roar to the A-League Premiership and Championship titles in the 2013-14 season and it is hoped the Manchester native can turn things around for Terengganu as the Malaysia Super League (MSL) progresses.

But the disjointed Terengganu may find it tough to stop Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) who are riding a high wave after their 8-1 thrashing of Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady in Wednesday’s AFC Cup Group H match.

The team tore the Myanmar side apart with captain Safiq Rahim showing no signs of his reported injury when he netted a hat-trick.

Juan Martin Lucero will also be confident against Terengganu after opening his goalscoring account with his new club by netting a brace.

Team news

Midfielder Ismail Faruqi Asha’ari as well as Canada international Issey Nakajima-Farran are injured and will not start for Terengganu, but Argentine Gustavo Lopez is expected to make a return after missing the last match against PKNS in the FA Cup following a knock.

Mulvey is unfortunately unable to rely on many members of his squad to step up against the champions. Midfielder Joseph Kalang Tie, who was brilliant in pre-season, has failed to spark, while the majority have also not been performing.

Lucero will want to be eager to add to his tally after breaking his JDT duck in the AFC Cup

Many would expect JDT to record another big win but things will probably be different as Argentine Mario Gomez, the tactician who gained fame by leading the Southern Tigers to league and continental success, is expected to make some changes.  

Junior Eldstal, Azamuddin Akil and Asraruddin Putra Omar will not be available for selection following injuries.

Key battle: Vincent Bikana vs Jorge Pereyra Diaz

Centre-back Vincent Bikana is known for his no-nonsense approach and excellent reading of the game. JDT’s forward line led by Jorge Pereyra Diaz may find the Cameroonian a major obstacle.

Diaz, though, has been instrumental for JDT this season with three goals so far in all competitions. The Argentine can play anywhere in attack and he has the knack of outwitting defenders with his skills and ball control to create opportunities for his teammates.

Even if the Argentine has an off-night, Bikana and his fellow defenders will be kept busy throughout the match with the other JDT attackers beginning to find their range in front of goal.

Fact and figures

  • Terengganu’s only win over Darul Ta’zim at home in 10 meetings was the 1-0 victory in an MSL match in March 2014. Defender Vincent Bikana scored the winning goal.
  • JDT have scored 16 goals and conceded only twice in four matches while Terengganu have netted two goals and conceded four in three matches this season.

FourFourTwo Prediction

Terengganu 1 JDT 3. JDT are expected fire on all cylinders to condemn Terengganu to their second MSL defeat.