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Wounded JDT looking to extend lead against bottom-placed Penang logo 25-04-2017

BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter

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After their disappointment of going out in the quarterfinal stage of the FA Cup and thus failing to defend the trophy they won in 2016, Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) turns their attention back to the Super League as they look to finish the first half of the season on a high.

It's top versus bottom in Matchday 11 of the Super League with JDT traveling to up north to face last-place, Penang. 18 points separates the two teams prior to the kick-off at Batu Kawan Stadium on Wednesday night.

JDT by virtue of their position in the table has already qualified for the Malaysia Cup but the same cannot be said of Penang. The Panthers are still mathematically in with a shout but even if they do beat JDT, they will still need a nine goals swing between them and Sarawak - for them to qualify.

Mora slams the referee after JDT bow out of FA Cup

Defensive lapses continue to plague Benjamin Mora's side after their last showing against Pahang. The partnership of Fadhli Shas and Marcos Antonio hasn't gel - the constant chopping and changing not helping to create any sort of momentum in the backline. Aidil Zafuan's poor form and Dominic Tan's lack of experience gives Mora little choice to make.

Another player in poor form is Amirulhadi Zainal and perhaps the time is now for him to be replaced by the younger Nazmi Faiz. The former Selangor man has the same if not better technical qualities but clearly has higher energy levels to be a prospective partner with Afiq Fazail at the base of the midfield.

Up front is a department that has continued to shine despite the troubles at the back. JDT are amongst the top two scorers in the league with 25 goals over 10 matches played. Safiq Rahim, Gonzalo Cabrera and Gabriel Guerra have combined to score 17 of those goals and they will be backed to get more against a leaky Penang side.

Poor refereeing overshadows gripping JDT-Pahang FA Cup encounter

After an inspiring debut win, Zainal Abidin Hassan's reign hasn't gone through the turnaround that they would've hoped for after they stumbled to a 1-4 defeat to Kelantan on home soil in their last outing. A 1-1 draw against Melaka United is their best home result of the campaign thus far and should they fail to shore up the defence, that record looks likely to remain versus JDT.

The heavy burden falls on the shoulders of Mafry Balang, Reinaldo Lobo and K. Reuben who have to be on their best to deny the fearsome strike force of JDT. The screening job provided by Azrul Ahmad will also be crucial to cut the supply from creator-in-chief, Safiq.

Zainal will know that Penang's chance to reach the Malaysia Cup is all but gone - however will want to kick-start the rest of their 2017 season with a good result against the reigning champions. With the transfer window coming up soon, players also know that they are playing for their respective contracts as Zainal has already signaled intentions to change the squad.

JDT 2 (3) Pahang 1 (4): Soumareh's late header sends Tok Gajah to semis

A wounded Southern Tigers may well be licking their wounds still but are nonetheless still expected to come away with nothing other than three points.The Panthers will do well to keep the score down and come away with a respectable performance on Wednesday night.

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