Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) couldn't maintain their winning start to the 2017 Malaysia Cup campaign after they could only draw 0-0 against Terengganu in a match played on Friday night. However, that came with the pretext that Ulisses Morais made 11 changes to the team and despite not picking up full points, would still keep the Southern Tigers top of Group D after the completion of the second round of matches.
The Turtles had the better of the opening exchanges as the lack of playing time for most of the players on show from the away team was evident to be seen. However, the quality in the JDT side meant that it was only a matter of time before they adapted to each other and began to get back into the game as the first half went on.
"Terengganu are a great side and have good players. It was a little difficult for us but the important thing was the players did well and contributed one point to the team."
"In the first half, we had difficulty in the first 30 minutes because Terengganu began the match well and controlled the game until they gave us some problems. But the next 30 minutes the players managed to match the playing quality of Terengganu, which was important."
"In general it was a great match and we had to fight to the very end because Terengganu had many goal-scoring chances like JDT had. For tonight's match it can be said that 50% of the chance fell to JDT and another 50% to Terengganu," said Morais through JDT's social media channel.
Morais made sweeping changes from the side that defeated Sarawak in the opening match of the Malaysia Cup with none of the starting XI that played against the Crocs started in Kuala Terengganu.
Darren Lok made his first appearance for the team this season while the lesser seen likes of Haziq Nadzli, Mohd Hasbullah and Junior Eldstal also got valuable playing time. Darren forced Terengganu's Suffian Rahman into making a good safe in the first half while Hasbullah did well at right back before being switched to centre midfield in the second half.
But the player who shone the most was undoubtedly Haziq who was commanding in his penalty box, although he did had the odd moments of mistakes when coming to claim crosses. His last minute save from Tcheche Kipre's header would certainly go down as one of the saves of the season.
Morais evidently felt confident enough in his squad to make the changes and promises to give more opportunities to the players in the coming matches in the competition.
"JDT have 29 players in total. I feel the Malaysia Cup can give them playing opportunities because we as the coaching staff believe in them. That is the important thing," he added.