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Goal Malaysia takes an exclusive look at the key battles that could influence the titanic clash between Pahang and Johor Darul Ta'zim

R. GOPINATHAN
VS MAHALI JASULI
 
We all know how Gopinathan is an incredible threat for Pahang on the flanks, and his pace will be troublesome for the Johor DT defence. Mahali, who is likely to start at right back, will be required to pay extra attention in keeping Gopi at bay and he certainly has the merits to do so. That is precisely why this battle will be absolutely enthralling to observe, because if Gopi does get the extra edge over Mahali, that means countless breakaways through the flanks for Pahang.


AZIDAN SARUDIN
VS PABLO AIMAR
 
You don't need a genius to point out how influential Aimar has been for Johor DT and he will seek to flourish in that playmaking role again on Friday. However, he will be going up against a player that has been on top form this season, Azidan Shahrudin. The hardworking mifielder has really stepped things up to dominate Pahang's midfield and has been the driving force for them. But on Friday, he will be required to drop down and play a deeper role than usual, in order to contain the threat posed by Aimar. If that is successfully done, then Pahang have a higher chance of shining on home turf.
AZAMUDDIN AKIL
VS SHAKIR SHAARI
 
In order for Matias Conti to bang in the goals, there needs to be a positive support system from midfield; something that Azamuddin Akil is primarily responsible for. And he will be expected to do so on Friday as well. But it would not be an easy ride in the park, with Shakir Shaari forming the protective membrane over Johor's defence. The combat between this two men will be extremely interesting as we have seen Pahang struggle to create chances when Azamuddin is nullified.
 

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