Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) opened their 2017 Malaysia Cup with a resounding 4-0 win over Sarawak on Tuesday night. The result puts the Southern Tigers on top of Group D after Selangor only managed to draw 1-1 with Terengganu in the other match.
Ulisses Morais opted for a strong starting XI and was rewarded with a brace of goals in each half of the match. Mohammed Ghaddar, Aidil Zafuan, Fazly Mazlan and Amirulhadi Zainal who started in the previous match against Penang were replaced by Hazwan Bakri, Fadhli Shas, Azrif Nasrulhaq and Afiq Fazail respectively.
Morais couldn't hide his delight in the post-match press conference, in the manner which some form of squad rotation worked for his team. The Spaniard went on to suggest that rotation will be a constant theme for his side and he's confident that whoever is put in place will deliver for JDT.
"The match against Sarawak was an exciting game. The players displayed a very good performance. The three points are very important for us. They played well especially in the first 70 minutes. We will play even better in future games. I am very satisfied with the squad rotation."
"The next match against Terengganu on 7th is very important for me. After that we will focus on the game against Pahang on 11th. However I'm not too worried because JDT have many quality players. That's why I can rotate the players frequently. Currently the physical condition of the players is getting better," said Morais.
The match also saw Nazmi Faiz playing for the first time under Morais as the midfielder replaced Safiq Rahim after 68 minutes played. Nazmi and Morais were of course together at SC Beira-Mar when the former had a disappointing short stint over there.
Meeting him a few years later, Morais is pleased to see the improvement that Nazmi has made as a player and considers him a viable option to challenge for a regular place in the JDT side despite their plethora of options in midfield.
"As for Nazmi Faiz, he played for SC Beira-Mar in 2015 when I was the head coach. He is indeed a very good player. When I first met him, he was a young talented player; now he's improved to become a better player."
"Nazmi and his team-mates played really well against Sarawak. He plays in midfield and JDT have many midfielders with different experience levels. However, it surely is not difficult for Nazmi because he's a talented player," added Morais.
JDT's Malaysia Cup campaign continues with a trip to Kuala Terengganu to face Terengganu this Saturday.