Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) stayed on course for a fourth successive Super League title, which would extend the current record of three wins in a row that they currently hold as well. This, after they disposed of Pahang 2-0 in a midweek clash played at Darul Makmur Stadium.
Safiq Rahim provided the assist for Natxo Insa in the dying embers to maintain their lead at the top of the standings, nine points ahead of Kedah. The midfielder who in recent weeks had the captain's armband returned to him, is slowly but surely building up a solid partnership with Insa.
The arrival of Insa has allowed Safiq to be used in a more released mode, one which allows him to focus solely on the attacking side. Insa and another midfielder, which thus far has predominantly been Amirulhadi Zainal, has the responsibilities to do the "dirty work" which gives Safiq the freedom to express the better virtues of his game.
"Thankful that JDT was able to bring back three points against our nearest rival, which helped to increase the gap between us and Pahang. The win tonight [Tuesday] is down to the hard work from the players and the coaches. I hope we can maintain this in the coming games whether home or away," said Safiq after the match against Pahang.
Having been in this position before, Safiq knows that it's dangerous to assume that the hard work is done and that they can canter to the league title. With seven matches still to go in the league, any drop in performance could swing the momentum out of their favour.
With tricky trips to Selangor, Felda United and Kedah still on the cards - JDT could still face a fight on their hands to retain the league title. Which is why Safiq is adamant that he and his team mates cannot let things get to their head, and must continue to dig deep and work hard.
"We cannot take things for granted. JDT still have matches left to play in the Super League this season, even though we picked up nine points in three straight matches and are top of the table."
"That is why we need to keep the maintain, work-rate and team spirit because we want to achieve another new history for JDT. If we can keep the same mentality, I'm sure we can retain the title for the fourth time," he added.
JDT will next face Sarawak on Saturday, having already beaten the same opponent in recent week albeit in the Malaysia Cup. Ulisses Morais has already stated his intention to switch things around in terms of the personnel but with David Usop leaving his position at Sarawak, it all points to the Southern Tigers maintaining their lead at the top for another round.