Ulisses Morais made a very good start to life at Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) after guiding his team to a 2-0 win over Penang at Tan Sri Hj Hassan Yunos Stadium on Saturday. The win puts the reigning Super League champions nine points clear at the top ahead of the chasing duo of Pahang and Kedah.
Mohammed Ghaddar scored in the first half, finishing a move that Gonzalo Cabrera started and the the latter got on the act himself in the second half to seal their 10th league win of the 2017 season. However JDT did survived a few heart-in-mouth moments at the back as well as profligacy in front of goal that Morais intends to work on for the coming games.
"It was a good start. We started off with a win and we know the players can play even better because JDT have many quality players. However it was not the best game as we hoped but it was enough to win the game. The important thing was we got three points from the match."
"Despite that, there were several negatives in the match, as we did not make full use of our goal-scoring chances. We had as many as nine chances but we missed. That was the negative part of the game but we must remain positive. Getting three points, celebrating victory and players carrying out their roles are the most important," said Morais in the post-match press conference.
The Spanish head coach played down the subdued performances of some players in particular Safiq Rahim to just fitness but was more than happy to see the others picking up responsibility during the win. Morais will also need to assess the condition of goalscorer Ghaddar before the start of the Malaysia Cup in midweek.
"The physical condition of the players also played a role and there were players who were affected by different injuries. As we knew, Safiq had some problem but in today's match, Safiq received help from other midfielders to control the game such as Natxo Insa and Amirulhadi Zainal. So, Safiq seemed to play a lot calmer."
"There were some problems with the players such as Mohammed Ghaddar picking up an injury towards the end of the game. We will surely make some changes because we possess several quality players to play in upcoming games," he added.
When asked, Morais also refuse to give away any indication which team that will be fielded in the opening Malaysia Cup match against Sarawak this coming Tuesday. With matches coming up thick and fast, the experienced coach knows that there will be changes made but everything would depend on the recovery of his charges.
"We have two games to play next week and we need to work harder. We need to try winning the Super League and it is among our main objectives. For the Malaysia Cup match against Sarawak on Tuesday, we need to observe first the physical condition of our players who will play that night," explained Morais.