ISKANDAR PUTERI, March 5: It’s a new season, but the outcome is the same.
Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) scored a goal in each half to beat Kedah Darul Aman FC (KDA FC) 2-0 and retain the Charity Shield for the fourth straight season in a game played behind closed doors at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium here tonight.
Goals from midfielder Muhammad Safawi Rasid (34th minute) and Spanish import Natxo Insa (67th) were enough for the Southern Tigers to claim the Shield for the sixth time in seven seasons since 2015.
The 2021 Malaysia League (M-League) season-opening victory also handed JDT all three points as they embark on a mission of making history by claiming the Super League title for an eighth consecutive time this year.
In tonight’s Charity Shield-cum-Super League match, coach Benjamin Mora’s JDT players sounded an early warning of their intentions when they had two shots that hit the bar in a space of seven minutes through Leandro Velazques (fourth minute) and Gonzalo Cabrera (11th minute).
Not to be outdone, KDA FC, despite struggling to get their game going, nearly stunned the home team when a Tchetche Kipre’s acrobatic shot also hit the bar, with JDT goalkeeper Mohd Farizal Marlias stranded.
With JDT controlling the game, it was a matter of time before they opened accounts and that was exactly what they did in the 34th minute when Muhammad Safawi, upon receiving a pass from Mohd Afiq Fazail, took a step before unleashing a stiff left-footed shot into the bottom left corner past the diving KDA FC goalkeeper, Mohd Ifwat Akmal Che Kassim.
Despite having the upper hand, JDT had to wait until the 67th minute to double their lead when Natxo’s screamer from outside the box was deflected into the bottom right corner by Kedah’s Mohamad Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik.
Game, set and match.
Tonight’s match was also quite significant for fans of the Southern Tigers, with Muhammad Safawi and Muhammad Safiq Rahim back in JDT colours.
Muhammad Safawi was loaned out to Portuguese club Portimonense SC last season while Muhammad Safiq rejoined JDT after turning out for Melaka United last season.
JDT’s next Super League match will be against newcomers Penang FC while KDA FC will entertain Sabah on Tuesday.- Bernama