The hosts produced a magnificent defensive performance against the Southern Tigers to send the favourites reeling from a single goal defeat.
Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) took their star-studded team to Kuala Terengganu for the second round of the Super League to take on T-Team, with both sides enjoying contrasting fortunes.
JDT won their opening fixture against Perak FA and was given a bye in the FA Cup first round, while T-Team were in Klang Valley for two games, losing one to Selangor and narrowly beating UiTM in the other.
Azraai Khor, in his home debut, made the bold decision of dropping captain Marzuki Yusof to the bench. As for Cesar Jimenez, Nazrin Nawi started in place of Nurul Azwan Roya as the only change from the first game.
The first half was mostly played at half pace as both sides took turns to enjoy greater possession in the game. First was JDT, who had Pablo Aimar pulling the strings in midfield and Nazrin giving Muhd Syuhiran run-around. However the final ball was poor as Luciano Figueroa didn’t get the service he craved for.
Midway through the first half, T-Team came into their own and started to launch a few attacks. Patrich Wanggai tested Norazlan Razali with long-range shots, but T-Team’s ploy was mainly via the aerial route. Azlan Ismail was on free-kick duties and his delivery was decent although T-Team would win the first headers but not the second ones.
Those that were hoping that the second half would be an improvement on the first half, were bitterly disappointed when the same ponderous performance in the first half was repeated. Something was needed to spark the game into life and thankfully, that came in the 71st minute.
The delivery from multiple free-kicks should have been clear enough warning for JDT in the first half but they did not heed it.
This time, coming from a corner kick, Evaldo Rodrigues beat Baihakki Khaizan to head the ball back across goal. Patrich and Fabio Flor both went for the same header, with closer inspection upon replays showing that the form got the final touch.
The goal caused plenty of concern for Jimenez, who responded by throwing on all his attacking options from the bench. On came Norshahrul Idlan, Safee Sali and former Lions XII captain Hariss Harun.
However, the T-Team defence stood strong and kept JDT at bay. Flor himself would later receive most of the plaudits for the wonderful defensive performance that they produced, keeping Figueroa quiet and that itself, is some mean feat.
The team that produced the worst performance of the opening MSL weekend had just beaten the best team from that same round. In only the second week of the league season, the result perhaps inidcates that any judgement for any team will have to be reserved for later.