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All eyes on Ghaddar as JDT looks to continue unbeaten run

Goal.com logo Goal.com 23-05-2017

Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) goes into the match against PKNS FC looking to extend their 10-match unbeaten run in the Super League and 9-match unbeaten run in all competitions. The league leaders will be hoping to at least maintain their six points gap to second place, Pahang, before the league takes a break due to the Ramadhan fasting month.

When the two teams met at the Tan Sri Hj. Hassan Yunos Stadium on 15 April, JDT emerged victorious after a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Red Ants. The Southern Tigers were stung by Bobby Gonzales' opening goal for the visitors before rallying back through an own goal by Matias Hadwa and Safiq Rahim's winner.

The last time PKNS played a match, it was on 9 May where they held highly-fancied Kedah to a 4-4 draw at the Shah Alam Stadium. The plucky PKNS team will need a similar effort and more than a slice of luck, if they are to hold out against the reigning league champions on Wednesday.

E. Elavarasan will be without two stalwarts at both ends of the pitch - Gonzalo Soto and Safee Sali. In their stead, much will be relied on Fauzan D'zulkifli at the back and Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh up front. Hadwa is expected to be pushed further forward to support Wleh but they could spend more time chasing the ball than attacking, if as expected PKNS's midfield looses their battle against JDT.

Unlike PKNS, Benjamin Mora will still need to juggle between winning this match and preparing for the all-important AFC Cup ASEAN zone semi-final second leg against Ceres-Negros FC next week, where they take a 3-2 lead to the Philippines.

Ghaddar is JDT's gain but someone else's loss

A match that saw Mora depended on Dominic Tan but failed to reap the rewards of that faith. However, PKNS are a different kettle of fish compared to Ceres - and Dominic could well be entrusted with yet another start. Aidil Zafuan is back in training but if the experienced centre back isn't fully fit yet, the risk is better off taken next week.

After much fanfare that followed the transfer of Mohammed Ghaddar from Kelantan to JDT - the Lebanese striker could be unleashed by Mora on the unsuspecting PKNS side. The league's top scorer with 18 goals, all eyes will be on how Ghaddar adapts or slots into the JDT team.

When the league resumes on 1 July, PKNS are expected to be able to field a very different side to the one that Elavarasan can field on against JDT on Wednesday. For some players, it could be their final contribution to the M-League and that motivation could make for a very interesting match.

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On paper, there's no denying that JDT should come out on top in this encounter - whoever Mora chooses to field. However any team that goes into a match thinking that the battle is already half won, is just asking for trouble.

Given the form and difference in squad quality, all signs point towards JDT picking up their ninth league win and see them being the first team to break the 30 points barrier this season.

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