Fresh from a miraculous comeback against Pahang in the FA Cup, Perak couldn't continue in the same vein at their home ground as Johor Darul Ta'zim ran out eventual 3-0 winners in Saturday's Malaysia Super League match day 19 action in Ipoh.
Mehmet Durakovic kept faith with the team that succeeded in the semi-final and was almost rewarded in the first half as his Perak side controlled the match and created several good goalscoring chance to take the lead in the match against the yet to be beaten JDT team.
However Ronaldo Henrique Silva and Raianderson da Costa Morais were among the major culprits in wasting good opportunities when they had JDT on the backrope. The champions would later show the home side just what it means to finish off chances created through goals from Leandro Velazquez and Akhyar Rashid.
"To score against JDT in the first five minutes would have been a dream come true for everybody. We really played well in the first half, we controlled the game and had so many chances. But credit to JDT, they are a good side. You give them half a chance and they score. We had so many chances but didn't score, it wasn't our night.
"If we had taken our chances, maybe we could have gone into half time the one leading 2-0. But at the end of the day, I'm proud of my players and how they played for 90 minutes. It took JDT three world class goals to beat us, so I'm proud of my players even if we lost," said Durakovic in the post-match press conference.
That defeat, the fourth one that Perak had suffered in the Super League this season saw them dropping one spot from fifth to sixth after Melaka United picked up three points to overtake them. With just three rounds of matches remaining, it looks unlikely that Durakovic could repeat last season's runners-up finish.
However the cup final still looms large and the next three matches will be the battleground for his players to prove to him that they deserve a place in the team that lines-up at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on July 27.
Perak will next face Selangor in Ipoh before a dress rehearsal of the FA Cup final when they will meet Kedah on July 14 before wrapping up their 2019 Super League campaign with a home match against relegation candidate Kuala Lumpur.
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