It wasn't a happy start to the 2018 Malaysia Cup campaign for Johor Darul Ta'zim after they suffered a shock 1-2 reverse to MISC-MIFA on Sunday night. The home defeat a start contrast to their Super League home form, where they won all 11 matches played at Tan Sri Dato Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium.
As expected JDT dominated possession but were thwarted by the well disciplined MIFA side who set their stall to play on the defensive but look to release Kpah Sherman and L'imam Seydi when possession is recovered.
It was a ploy that worked tremendously well as the likes of S. Kunanlan and La'Vere Corbin-Ong were unable to join up with JDT attacks as often as they would have liked. In fact, both of MIFA's goals came from opening created from counter attacks, tells the story on its own.
"This has not been a good night for Johor Darul Ta'zim Football Club (JDT). We had a good start to the game. Continuously attacking the MIFA lines and created chances to score goals, but we made mistakes that allowed the visitors to score. MIFA is undoubtedly a good team."
"They have a very good defensive line that stopped us. Our crosses were cut short and did not reach our players. Even though MIFA choose to play a defensively, they still have very good forward players," said Raul Longhi after the match.
For the Malaysia Cup, teams from the Super League are only allowed to use four import players and Longhi selected Marcos Antonio, Gonzalo Cabrera, Fernando Elizari and Fernando Marquez to play in the match.
The conspicuous absence of one Hariss Harun left a big hole in JDT's midfield and for the first time this season, it was clear to all that saw the match how crucial Hariss has become to the team. The impact of not having someone like Safawi Rasid to come off the bench when required was also detrimental to JDT's cause.
"Our players worked hard to create scoring chances but our attempts were unsuccessful. We were a bit at a loss with the absence of Hariss Harun in tonights match. He is a very important player to us but we could only field four foreign players."
"Next week we will be facing Kedah in Larkin. Kedah is a good team which has a few good players, but I have confidence in my JDT players. We have to work hard for the chance to collect three full points in that match and we have five days to prepare," added Longhi.