JDT top MSL for first time in 2017

A week after appearing to lose the plot, defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) came from two goals behind to defeat Kelantan 3-2 and top the Malaysia Super League (MSL) for the first time this season. 

The Southern Tigers were smarting from two defeats – first in the FA Cup quarter-final first leg against Pahang on April 1 and then to Global FC in the AFC Cup four days later – but the three-time consecutive MSL winners are back in a familiar position in the league after wins against Melaka and Kelantan.

JDT have 20 points after nine round of matches, one more than Pahang and Kedah. The Elephants are in second place due to an inferior goal difference.

Benjamin Mora’s charges had to dig deep for their win after Lebanese forward Mohamed Ghaddar scored his eighth and ninth goal in four matches within 15 minutes of the start to take his season tally to 12, the league’s best.

Safiq Rahim, who bagged a hat-trick in the 7-0 win over Melaka on Sunday, reduced the deficit in the 19th minute while Gabriel Guerra and Gonzalo Cabrera scored a goal each to turn the tie around before the teams entered the dressing room at half-time.

JDT, who have not produced the best football in 2017, have not topped the charts prior to the win in Kota Bahru as new coach Mora has struggled with the rotation policy and desired new playing style demanded by the club’s hierarchy.

Their return to the top, however, will ease some pressure on Mora. JDT are slowly looking like strong title contenders again.

The statistics also favour JDT. Marcos Antonio and co. at the back have the joint-best defence with Kedah while their attack are only one behind the free-scoring Pahang.

JDT will take on PKNS on Saturday night as they look to tighten their grip on the top spot.

Photo: Asiana.my