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A changed JDT looks to extend record against Sarawak

Goal.com logo Goal.com 04-07-2017

Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) kicks off their 2017 Malaysia Cup campaign with an away trip to Kuching where they will take on Sarawak at the State Stadium on Tuesday night. The two teams were last drawn together in the 2015 Malaysia Cup and JDT had already travelled to Sarawak in the Super League and won there earlier this season.

Both teams won their respective Super League matches at the weekend and should come into this match in good spirit and form. The bigger question would be how much of a squad rotation will there be from both side of the camps.

Comparatively, JDT has undoubtedly the better squad depth and in the event that Ulisses Morais decides to move things around with respect to his starting XI, the Southern Tigers will still head onto the pitch as the favourites to win the match.

Among the changes that could be made includes Hazwan Bakri for Mohammed Ghaddar, Azrif Nasrulhaq for Fazly Mazlan and Afiq Fazail for Amirulhadi Zainal. With the match coming in such short turnaround time from the previous match, Morais isn't expected to retain the same starting XI.

"Of course our priority is on the Super League, but every time we play football, we go through it with commitment because every footballer has a winning desire. Besides that, a problem for us is that we don't have enough time because we need to play two games in four days."

"Regardless, we will calmly face it. The players know how important it is to make sure the game ends with a good result. The most important thing after we won the recent match is that it has indirectly raised the morale and motivation of the players. For the time being the training sessions and preparation have been going well," said Morais through the club's official Facebook page.

The statement perhaps giving the clearest indication that changes is afoot as Morais looks to balance the team ahead of another Malaysia Cup tie at the weekend away to Terengganu. Without the AFC Cup to contend with this season, JDT could finally make an strong assault on the Malaysia Cup this year.

David Usop's side will be brimming with confidence after their fantastic 2-0 away win at Kelantan at the weekend. Demerson Costa and Mateo Roskam helped the Crocs to all three points in the league campaign, starting the resumption of the domestic season in fine form.

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Usop will be well aware that historically, his team hasn't won against JDT in any of their last five fixtures in all competitions. In fact, they only managed a solitary draw while the other four matches finished in defeat against JDT.

Ironically, both teams finished last in their respective groups in the 2016 Malaysia Cup, crashing out of the competition in the group stage. For their clash in 2017 in Group D, something will have to give and the early indication will be that the Southern Tigers will continue to uphold their fantastic recent record against the Crocs.

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