Syafiq takes international form to club, fires JDT into Malaysia Cup quarters

Syafiq Ahmad, Petaling Jaya City FC v Johor Darul Ta'zim, Malaysia Cup, 13 Sep 2019
Sports Regime
The forward is in red-hot form and his two goals against PJ City helped Johor Darul Ta'zim secure a place in the 2019 Malaysia Cup last eight.

The 24-year-old grabbed all the headlines and limelight during the two weeks of international break, having scored a goal each in Malaysia's two World Cup qualifier against Indonesia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) respectively. And the forward takes the international form to domestic matters by firing in a brace of goals in JDT's 3-2 win over Petaling Jaya City FC.

It was the result which JDT wanted as the three points gave them 13 points with neither PJ nor PKNP FC being able to overtake them, thus allowing The Southern Tigers to reach the next stage of the competition for the third consecutive seasons.

His performances for Malaysia seemed to have earned him the confidence of head coach Benjamin Mora who started Syafiq as the central striker with Diogo Luis Santo not in the match day squad. The goals would show not only Syafiq's predatory instincts but also his calmness in front of goal.

Syafiq Ahmad, Petaling Jaya City FC v Johor Darul Ta

A thunderous shot in the 36th minute after he was played through on goal gave Kalamullah Al-Hafiz no chance to even react, gave JDT the lead for the first time in the match after Safawi Rasid's free kick in the 24th minute had cancelled out Bae Beom-geun's 10th minute opener for the PJ City.

Then in the second half Syafiq struck again and the goal showed the variety he has in his game. Peeling off from his marker inside the box, Syafiq rose to nod home Safawi's inch-perfect cross in the 60th minute. A goal reminiscent of the one he scored earlier in the week against UAE.

It was a goal that was crucial in the context of the match because PJ City had only just grabbed an equaliser just a minute before that when Washington Brandao's diving header from Bae's cross had made it 2-2 and the home side at Petaling Jaya Municipal Council Stadium was threatening to take a foot-hold in the match.

Syafiq Ahmad, Petaling Jaya City FC v Johor Darul Ta

It has been a difficult season for the Penang-born player as the combination of injuries and the oustanding form of Diogo meant that opportunities to play as a striker, his favourite and arguable his most natural position, has been few and far in between.

Mora opted to take off Syafiq with 10 minutes remaining on the clock, perhaps with half a mind on the high number of minutes that the forward has clocked in the past week, with this being his third match in eight days, with the first being that one at Gelora Bung Karno on September 5.

At a time when Malaysia looked to be shorn of striking options, Syafiq's burst of form is offering a lot of food for thought for those not only at the national team set-up but also for his club, JDT. With more games to come in the quarterfinal stage of the Malaysia Cup, Syafiq may yet be entrusted opportunities to keep his good run going.


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