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Super League

JDT could retain league title at Selayang Stadium

10:10 AM GMT+4 27/07/2017
Natxo Insa, Johor Darul Ta'zim, Perak, Super League, 26/07/2017
Controversy marred the outcome between JDT and Perak but the former now have the league title well in sight.

Another Super League match, another win for Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT).

The latest win over Perak on Wednesday night, tightened their hold on the league title as they now only need one more win from the remaining four matches to retain the title. However, the 2-1 win at Tan Sri Hj Hassan Yunos Stadium was not without its controversies.

Mehmet Durakovic had his side defensively structured, looking to frustrate JDT at every opportunity and relied purely on quick counter attacks. Perak did well to hold the Southern Tigers in the first half, largely thanks to solid defensive organisation as well as JDT players' profligacy in front of goal.

The Bos Gaurus even managed to produce the opening goal through Hafiz Kamal's wonderfully taken free kick just before half time which was perfectly placed into the top corner, leaving Izham Tarmizi with nothing to do except to watch admirably at the accuracy of the strike.

Yet, all the good work was immediately undone at the start of the second half when Hafizul Hakim fumbled at a corner kick set piece and allowed Fadhli Shas the easiest of tasks, to tap in an unguarded net. Then came the moment that became the talking point of the match.

Gabriel Guerra who had been excellent all game, had threaded a superb through pass for Gonzalo Cabrera to have a shot on goal. This time, Hafizul redeemed himself with a great stop but the rebound fell onto the path of Mohammed Ghaddar.

On further inspection, Ghaddar was in an offside position when Cabrera took his shot but the assistant referee failed to spot it and the goal was allowed to stand.

This is the latest in a long line of poor officiating decisions that has beseiged football this domestic season. A decision which the owner of JDT and current Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) HRH Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim also believed was wrong. 

It is unfortunate for Perak to lose in such a manner but to say the decision was made in bias of JDT does not quite underline the problem at hand regarding match officials. The officials have put themselves in a bad light this season in particular and improvements will have to be made whether in terms of training or personnel, the situation is certainly bigger than one's penchant to side any particular team.

Putting aside the controversial second goal, JDT had the upper hand throughout the match and are arguably deserved winners based on the control they had in the match. Had the Ghaddar goal not stood, JDT might or might not have found the winning goal but nonetheless, it would have little consequence on the title race.

Had JDT only gained one point against Perak, they could still seal the title (not mathematically) with a win over Selangor in the next Super League fixture. Given their supreme goal difference of +30 compared to Kedah's +17, the latter would have to win every single one of their last four matches by a margin of at least three goals, all the while hoping that JDT doesn't pick up another point of their own.

On a night where JDT's title credentials were put to the test by a resolute Perak side, once again the soon-to-be-crowned-champioons have emerged with flying colours.