Izham Tarmizi aims to make amends for JDT mistake in Malaysia Cup
Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) goalkeeper Izham Tarmizi is determined to erase the heartache of allowing an own goal, ahead of the second leg of their Malaysia Cup semifinal against Perak at Larkin Stadium on Saturday.
In the first leg, Izham was left flat footed as Mohamad Hasbullah Abu Bakar's attempted clearance nestled in the bottom corner in a 1-1 draw last Sunday.
Izham, who is a regular between the sticks following Farizal Marlias' eight-month suspension by the Asian Football Confederation, is determined to make amends.
"We have to forget the [own goal] incident in that forgettable first half on Sunday. It is time for the team to give their full commitment to get a win in front of our home fans," Izham told Berita Harian.
"Conceding once is enough. We need to toughen up and not lose focus because our opponents will be waiting for another slip up. I am optimistic the upcoming 90 minutes will favour us. We are not prepared to let Perak take advantage."
The Southern Tigers have conceded only seven times in the competition, despite using many different combinations in their backline.
JDT head coach Ulisses Morais could again tinker with his defence, and revert to Fazly Mazlan at left-back in place of Hasbullah.
The young defender was found wanting on many occasions, and the more experienced Fazly would give JDT more stability in defence and impetus going forward.
The front three of Mohammed Ghaddar, Gabriel Guerra and and Gonzalo Cabrera were also not up to mark in the Ipoh clash, and had to rely on a defensive lapse from Shahrom Kalam to grab an equaliser.
The league champions, however, are expected to come out guns blazing on Saturday night, in front of a capacity crowd, to get an early goal and fire JDT to only their second Malaysia Cup final.
Perak will not be pushovers, and have proven to be a resilient side under Mehmet Durakovic this season.
They are a solid fifth in the league, and causing an upset over the favourites away from home would be one of the biggest achievements of their campaign.
In order to achieve that, Durakovic would have to inflict defeat on JDT on their home ground, a feat not achieved since Felda United beat them in Johor Bahru in the 2015 season.
The Australian coach is also sweating over the fitness of his influential playmaker Leandro Dos Santos, and midfielder Yashir Pinto for this clash.
Despite not being at full strength, Perak put on combative performance in the first leg, with their high-energy pressing and swift counter attacks.
Durakovic last featured in the Malaysia Cup final in 2015, in charge of Selangor, overseeing a 2-0 victory over Kedah, to win his fourth title as a coach or player.
The other second-leg semifinal will see Felda United travel to face Kedah in Alor Setar, with the score also balanced at 1-1 after last Sunday's first leg in Jengka.
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.