MSL 2017 isn’t yet complete, but here’s why JDT will win it all again next year

Seeing Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) lift the Malaysia Super League (MSL) trophy is becoming a norm. Now boasting four straight league titles, the club is setting new benchmarks on a regular basis in Malaysia.

Despite the best efforts of their competitors, here FourFourTwo looks at five reasons why the Southern Tigers will be favourites for a fifth straight crown in 2018.

1. THEY HAVE THE BEST SQUAD

It’s not just about having 11 of the best players around. Injuries, suspensions and a cramped fixture list are among the variables that can force any coach to look at his reserves.

Ulisses Morais, however, just like many of his JDT predecessors, has few concerns when it comes to that.

Gary Steven Robbat, Nazmi Faiz Mansor, Azamuddin Akil and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri are among the calibre of players waiting in the wings and available when called upon.

Another perfection illustration of their depth is the Southern Tigers’ woes at centre-back in 2017.

Ahmad has accepted a back-up role

Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak has been battling with fitness and form, while Brazilian Marcos Antonio suffered a long-term knee injury.

Their replacements? Fadhli Shas and Junior Eldstal – two players that would command a regular starting place in most teams.

The Southern Tigers have some of the biggest names in the country, but that doesn’t stop them continuing to shop around and snap up some of the best talent around, be it local or foreign.

Such is the depth in the squad that JDT allowed Singapore international Hariss Harun, among the leading holding midfielders in the region, to go out on loan in the S.League and they hardly skipped a beat.

2. THE ARRIVAL OF NATXO INSA

It has barely been three months since he took the field for the first time in Malaysia, but Insa has already made football followers fall in love with his quality.

Coming from Spanish second-tier side Levante, Insa has proven that he is a class above the rest at JDT and has instantly lifted their game from midfield since his mid-season move.

The 31-year-old has clicked with Safiq Rahim, Afiq Fazail, Gabriel Guerra and Gonzalo Cabrera with ease and one can only imagine how JDT would be playing next season when everyone is more accustomed to each other.

Natxo immediately added even more quality to their squad

Add Hariss back into the mix and JDT will have an almost untouchable engine room.

It’s also incredibly fortunate that Insa holds a Malaysian passport because his quality is akin to having another import player on the pitch

3. CONSISTENCY LIKE NO OTHER

Winning the league is all about being consistent and no club has done it better than JDT.

They have had their down moments on occasion, but they are always able to qiuckly right the ship.

JDT have scored the most number of goals in three of their four MSL-winning campaigns and conceded the least in three seasons too.

The classy Hariss has barely been missed. Photo: FAS

Selangor had a better defence in 2014 and a better attack in 2015, but neither were enough to prevent the Johor giants winning the title.

Since their slow start in 2017, when they won just once in their first four outings, JDT only dropped points twice in the ensuing 15 matches.

In 2016, JDT did not lose a single match.

While the likes of Pahang, Selangor, Kedah and Felda United have given JDT a run for their money, none have been able to do it over more than one season and all have struggled with consistency in 2017.