JDT local strikers give Southern Tigers MSL edge - coach Benjamin Mora
Head coach Benjamin Mora hailed his ball-keeping Johor Darul Ta'zim side who breezed to a 3-0 home victory over T-Team on Saturday night to rise to fifth in the Malaysia Super League standings.
Gabriel Guerra's hat trick at the Larkin Stadium gave the defending league champions plenty of ammunition to take into their midweek MSL encounter away to Sarawak on Tuesday.
Besides Guerra, Mora can count on his local stars to deliver the goods in Kuching.
"We have won several games using only local strikers, while other teams are still depending heavily on their foreign strikers," said Mora via the Southern Tigers Facebook page.
"I am confident our local strikers will improve. We played very well against T-Team and dominated the whole game, with 87 percent ball possession."
Mora started with nine locals against the Titans, using Afiq Fazail in a holding position while Nazmi Faiz linked up with Safiq Rahim in the central midfield.
Ahmad Hazwan Bakri led a front three, flanked by Gonzalo Cabrera and Guerra.
JDT have now scored six times in their last two games to dispel any concerns about their lack of cutting edge in front of goal.
The combination of Hazwan and Gabriel Guerra is slowly beginning to take shape, while Nazmi and Junior Eldstal are also getting more playing time under the Mexican coach.
Mora, who took over from Mario Gomez in January, is emphasising the one-touch passing philosophy for his team.
"Throughout the match, we didn't lose the ball for more than 15 seconds," he said.
Kedah, meanwhile, will travel to face Selangor on Wednesday, buoyed by the 3-1 win over Penang on Saturday which maintained their one point lead at the MSL summit.
Your arms were always open when I needed a hug. Your heart understood when I needed a friend. Your gentle eyes were stern when I needed a lesson. Your strength and love has guided me and gave me wings to fly. You are the creators of my life. I owe everything to you. Now is PayBack Time. The Best Night Ever �� Sot mu plotsuar deshira ime me e madhe qe e kom pasur ndonjeher ne jet. Momenti kur prinderit e mi ishin prezent drejtperdrejt ne stadium te me shikjojn mu dhe ta pergezojn fitoren sebashku me birin e tyre ! Inshallah e ka gjdonjoni pre jush mundsijen ta perjetoj momentin kur i ben prinderit krenar ! Faliminderit Zotit Familjes dhe Fansave te mi me respekt Liridon Krasniqi #kedahOneFamily #ThanksGuys #Loveyou #basutelle #NeverGiveUp #LK8
Their playmaker Liridon Krasniqi paid tribute to his parents, who were present at the Darul Aman Stadium, by running to celebrate with them in the stands.
"Your strength and love has guided me and gave me wings to fly. You are the creators of my life. I owe everything to you. The best night ever," Krasniqi posted on his Instagram page.
The defeat leaves Penang firmly rooted in bottom spot, five points adrift of Felda United in 11th.
The Panthers' sixth consecutive defeat could also seal the fate of their beleaguered coach Ashley Westwood, who has not won a game all year -- apart from an FA Cup second round victory over third-tier opponents on Feb. 14.
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.