BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
It is not the easiest of task to replace a coach who won the double in the previous year and that is the arduous task that Benjamin Mora will have to handle. As Mario Gomez was dismissed having led Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) to the Super League and FA Cup triumphs last year, the responsibility on the hands of Mora is a heavy one.
In the league match against Perak on Saturday, Mora saw his team suffer their first domestic defeat and the heat is turning up on the Mexican. However Mora remained steadfast in his belief, pushing away the notion that he is under pressure and is confident that he can still push the team on to success this season.
"This is the way it is. I am occupied, I'm working what we need to work on. I know some players can upgrade their levels very fast. Also we had an injury in the first half that changed our plans. No pressure. I only want to work every day so that we can reclaim our title. It's a long way to go yet," said Mora.
Played on a heavy pitch after downpour, JDT struggled to get into their passing rhythm as Perak worked tirelessly to close the space for the champions. Safiq Rahim had to drop deep to provide an option for Amirulhadi Zainal and that for most parts, was to be the undoing of JDT with their creative fulcrum away from the attacking third.
Having gone through the entire 2016 league season unbeaten, for JDT to lose after only the 4th match may yet go to show that there should at least be growing concerns with the team. Mora pointed to the conditions as one of the reasons why his team struggled in Ipoh.
"The result went wrong. We wanted to play from the outside and it was a little bit quite difficult. The pitch didn't help very much. We couldn't convert the two or three that we had. That's the way it is," added Mora.
Undoubtedly disappointment with the result, Mora did offer praise to the home side who could potentially be one of their title challengers for the 2017 season. Perak sit third in the table after this latest win, only a point behind leaders, Kedah.
"But this team Perak did a very good job. They fought, they press very good. We have possession of the ball most of the time but they were aggressive in their attacking phase. They were fast and play good football," said the magnanimous Mora.
JDT will have a chance to put the league troubles aside at least for the time being as they await the arrival of Cambodia's Boeung Ket for the first group match of the 2017 AFC Cup this coming Tuesday.