Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) made a complete change from the team that beat Sarawak in the opening match of the Malaysia Cup group stage, and were held to a 0-0 draw away against Terengganu. The draw sees JDT continue to lead the standings in the group with Selangor and Sarawak still to play each other on Saturday.
Darren Lok made his first ever start of the season and in fact, his first ever taste of competitive football in 2017 as he was put up front in between Safawi Rasid and Azamuddin Akil. Also one to return from injury was Junior Eldstal who started alongside Aidil Zafuan in the centre of defence.
Irfan Bakti opted to field a rather strong line-up with Tchetche Kipre as the lone striker supported by a line of four that includes J. Partiban, Gabriel Davis, Faiz Nasir and Issey Nakajima. Lazaro Alves continues to wear the armband and mans the main job in defence.
A scrappy first half that saw few chances being created, Terengganu were perhaps the better side but it was the visitors who had more opportunities to take the lead. Nazmi Faiz reacted the quickest to pounce on Alves' poor square pass in the 35th minute but could only thrash ihs shot against the post with Suffian Rahman stranded.
Just five minutes later, Darren received the ball on the edge of the box and turned quickly to break away from his marker. Unfortunately for the striker, his curling shot was well covered by Suffian, who managed to push it out for a corner kick.
Just before the half time break, Terengganu did produced their first meaningful chance when Nakajima chested the ball down for Kipre to have a shot from outside the box. The Ivory Coast striker was unlucky that his shot hit the post and rolled kindly back to Haziq Nadzli.
Ulisses Morais rang the changes in the second half, first bringing on Azrif Nasrulhaq for Shakir Shaari at half time and then Hazwan Bakri replaced Darren in the 63rd minute but his team escaped a penalty call that could've gone against them. Azrif appeared to have handled the ball inside the penalty box after a tussle with Nakajima but the referee waved play on.
It wasn't until the 70 minute mark that the second half saw a clear cut chance being created and that seemed to open a floodgate of opportunities. Hazwan fed Safawi with a wonderful pass but the latter's shot was slightly too high over the bar.
After that, JDT were forced to defend for rest of the second half as the Turtles up the tempo. Kipre dragged a shot wide in the 72nd minute, after some good work wriggling his way past two JDT players. Davis had a shot in the final minute of normal time but Haziq was up to the task.
There was to be one final chance for the home side to snatch a late win but Haziq showed just why he is so highly-rated at JDT. In stoppage time, Terengganu had a corner kick and the delivery was perfect for Kipre to direct a header towards goal. Unfortunately for him, Haziq produced an outrageous stop right under the cross bar and that was that.
JDT would have wanted a win but to come away from Kuala Terengganu with a point after making so many changes is not something to be sniffed at. While Terengganu will grab plenty of confidence from their successive draw against teams from a division higher.