Kedah to play JDT in Malaysia Cup final dress rehearsal in MSL
Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) will prepare for the Malaysia Cup final with an unoffficial dress rehearsal against Kedah in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) next Saturday.
As fate has it, the two giants will face off on the final day of the MSL season at Alor Setar, with JDT already crowned league champions.
The Johor giants secured a place in their second Malaysia Cup final by brushing aside Perak 3-0 in the second-leg semifinal on Saturday night. Gonzalo Cabrera's second-half brace, plus a Gabriel Guerra strike, was enough to send the Southern Tigers through 4-1 on aggregate at a capacity Larkin Stadium.
Defending Malaysia Cup champions Kedah overcame Felda United 2-0 in the last four on Saturday for a 3-1 aggregate win to secure their place in the Nov. 4 showcase at Shah Alam Stadium.
"We will field the best players for the league game. The final doesn't change anything. We want to win the last league match and that means playing our best men," JDT boss Ulisses Morais told ESPN FC.
The Portuguese journeyman is on course to deliver JDT their second trophy since joining the club in June.
Two months after he came on board, Morais completed the job started by Benjamin Mora to secure the club their fourth consecutive league success.
Given that the MSL title was almost secure when he took over, winning the Malaysia Cup was set as Morais' key performance index.
The star-studded side had never previously paid much interest to the tournament, but Morais' policy of fielding strong teams has seen them score 25 goals, and concede only seven.
The former forward achieved all this with limited English proficiency.
"I don't speak English very well, but my players understand me. We are league champions, and now in Malaysia Cup final. I am happy," Morais said.
Perak coach Mehmet Durakovic, meanwhile, praised the efforts of his men who fought valiantly, despite having a couple of key refereeing decisions go against them at Larkin Stadium.
The ex-Australia international chose to skirt around Zaquan Adha's controversial offside goal, which would have drawn Perak level on aggregate.
"What do you want me to say? I wish JDT the best of luck in the final. 3-0 was not a reflection of the game. It is hard to take this defeat, a couple of decisions didn't go our way," Durakovic said.
"But we have plenty of positives to take from here. We have so many young players like Kenny [Palraj], Hafizul [Hakim] and Amirul [Azhan], who are all prospects for the future. Things are good for Perak moving forward."
Kedah, meanwhile, booked their third consecutive cup final after Sandro Da Silva's late brace saw off a spirited Felda in Alor Setar.
The FA Cup champions will be on a quest to finish the season with a cup double in bid to hang on to their best players for next season.
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.