Key Battles: Kelantan vs Johor Darul Takzim

It's Round 2 for Darul Takzim and Kelantan, and Goal looks at the players who are most likely to decide the outcome of Saturday night's cruncher
The second leg of the 2013 Malaysia Cup quarterfinal tie between this year's FA Cup finalists will take place in Kota Bharu this weekend with Darul Takzim having the upper hand and the superior goal count. Judging by JDT's group stage performance, it would have looked as if Kelantan would have had an easier task at Larkin last week, but the Southern Tigers ignored their mediocre cup run to put up a brilliant performance to get the edge over their bitter rivals at home to take to Kota Bharu this Saturday. Kelantan meanwhile need to regroup and steady their nerves, or they will find themselves under the intense pressure of their own fans' support instead.


In the heart of the Red Warriors is their Nigerian centre-back, who will want to quickly forget his relatively poor performance in the first leg, despite scoring a goal himself. He needs to concentrate on defending, and also to recapture his commanding presence at the back to plug in the leak, especially when his team's effort will be focused on attacking come Saturday, to recover the two-goal deficit.

That task will not be easy for him, as the man leading the breach for JDT is none other than his former teammate Norshahrul Idlan Talaha who may have known of Nwaneri and Kelantan's weaknesses, and how to manipulate them. Apart from scoring goals, he is particularly adept at drawing defenders to him, which in turn opens the space for the other attackers, and Kelantan should be wary of the many tricks that Norshahrul has up his sleeves.


Badhri had a difficult night in Larkin, uncharacteristically struggling to assert his dominance as the captain in midfield, perhaps this led to the whole team underperforming. He now must play better at home and help in attack, although that will not be an easy task as Darul Takzim midfielders have started playing together well to dominate possession.

And one of those midfielders was Jasazrin, and such was his performance that on a night his teammate the Safiq Rahim finally played a good game AND scored, his performance still stood out, buoyed by the wonderful freekick goal that left Kelantan goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi helpless. He will be looking to control possession of the ball, and keep the homeside out of the game, to avoid conceding in front of the intense Kota Bharu crowd.


On a night when his teammates floundered, Indra held his own to score a goal, and help his team take home two important away goals. While the JDT defence were concentrating on shutting out the more physical Dickson Nwakaeme, Indra snuck around on the pitch and was rewarded with a goal, and was unfortunate to have another denied by the offside flag. In the second leg, the veteran forward will have to rely on his wealth of experience to lead the attack, and he will have to contend with the possibility that JDT will approach the game more defensively, and overcome this accordingly.

Any other day, a two-goal lead is enough for JDT to ensure qualification. But going up against last year's Malaysia Cup champions Kelantan in Kota Bharu means that everything is still up for grabs, and a too-defensive approach to this match may just be suicidal. So the Southern Tigers must commit to attacking and leave their defence somewhat exposed, which means that their centre-back Aidil must be prepared to stop any forays made by Kelantan, who will surely look for an early goal to settle in the match. This means that Aidil must also contain his instinct to occasionally join the attack.