Key Battles: Johor Darul Takzim vs Kelantan

Goal looks at the 2013 Malaysia Cup quarterfinal between the Southern Tigers and the Red Warriors to bring you the key battles that will take place in Larkin this Friday

Johor Darul Takzim barely made it out of Group B of the 2013 Malaysia Cup, qualifying for the quarterfinals ahead of T-Team only based on a superior goal difference. Some may say that the Southern Tigers don’t deserve a spot but here they are drawn to face cup rivals Kelantan at the Larkin Stadium. The Red Warriors more than just survived Group C as they finished on top of what was tagged as the ‘Group of Death’ with 11 points. As Bojan Hodak’s men look to press on for the double, can Johor perhaps show that they are title contenders?


Malaysia’s No.1 centre-back has been the pivot in Johor Darul Takzim’s backline ever since he penned a contract with the Southern Tigers. However, the campaign has seen the 26-year-old dip in form, conceding 10 goals in six games. If there is anyone in the team that can rally the defence together, it’s Aidil who has had a wealth of experience playing for Negeri Sembilan and ATM. In his way will be the trailblazer in Dickson Nwakaeme. The Nigerian has been on red-hot form with five goals to his name. He will be looking to use his deadly pace and witty footwork to get past Aidil but these two are no strangers. They have bumped heads three before this season and the FA Cup final defeat in Bukit Jalil should still be looming in the minds of the Johor faithful. With cup glory at stake, fans can expect these two to be locking horns and don’t be surprised if either one gets carded.


Arguably the two best midfielders in Malaysia will be battling out at the Larkin Stadium to boss the middle of the park. Safiq Rahim has repeatedly trumped Badhri Radzi in retaining a spot with the Malayan Tigers over the years but when going head to head on the pitch, it’s a whole new ball game. Both have similar playing styles; they are set-piece geniuses, prolific passers of the ball and defensively dogged. However, when you look at these two separately, Badhri appears to be more composed on the ball and he has this spring in his step that could see him run circles around Safiq. But with the newly revived Malaysia Cup campaign for the hosts, the Darul Takzim skipper may have a thing or two up his sleeve that could leave fans at the edge of their seats this Friday.


This battle can be appropriately described as the ‘unstoppable force’ going up against the ‘immovable object’. Norshahrul has unrivalled pace when it comes to running at goal and his quick feet could see him tearing the Kelantan defence apart. He already has three goals in the bag and would like nothing more than to find the net when he plays against his former side. As good as he may be, Mat-Yo has the tendency to hold on to the ball too long and waste his teammates’ runs into good areas. That will be the exact weakness that Obinna Nwaneri aims to exploit. The no-nonsense defender has the physical strength that could easily overpower the Johor No.9. He has shown in previous games that he can and will do what it takes to clear the danger even if it looks ugly on the television. Obinna is the kind of player that will put it out if in doubt. The winner of this battle could very well help their side seal a place in the semifinals.