Malaysia Cup-winner Safiq Rahim 'hungry' for more trophies with JDT
Captain Safiq Rahim says he is hungry for more silverware after helping Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) win the Malaysia Cup for the first time with a 2-0 victory over Kedah in Saturday night's final.
An early headed goal from Aidil Zafuan set JDT on their way to glory before Gonzalo Cabrera sealed victory in the 62nd minute to help the club claim their second of four domestic trophies on offer in 2017.
Kedah won January's Charity Shield and May's FA Cup, with JDT winning the Malaysia Super League (MSL) for a fourth consecutive time.
JDT's double success in 2017 means they have won all domestic trophies on offer since being rebranded in 2012 after lifting the FA Cup (2016) and Charity Shield (2015 and 2016), in addition to their AFC Cup triumph in 2015.
"It was our dream to lift this trophy, and finally we managed to do so. Everyone from the back room staff to all the players worked so hard to get here, and we deserve it because we are simply the best," Safiq told ESPN FC.
"Many people had negative perceptions of us along the way, but we stood strong as a family. In order to achieve bigger things, we have to continue to stick together. On a personal note, I have won every title in Malaysia now.
"But I am still hungry for more."
In front of 80,000 fans, the Southern Tigers had a dream start after Aidil gave them the lead in the third minute.
Kedah struggled to recover from the early setback, but stayed in contention thanks to some great saves from their goalkeeper Ifwat Akmal.
But once Cabrera dispatched a half-volley beyond him, the game was all but over.
JDT head coach Ulisses Morais benched top scorer Mohammed Ghaddar and midfielder Afiq Fazail, but was ultimately vindicated in his selection.
"We have 27 players in this team, and everyone is capable of playing in the first 11. I think we showed everyone why we deserved this," Morais said.
"We started well, and had many chances in the first half itself. It was a great final, with a great atmosphere in a full house. I am happy."
The Portuguese coach carried on the good work by his predecessor Benjamin Mora to wrap up the MSL title in August.
But Morais masterminded the team's run in the Malaysia Cup with a strong line up in every game.
The Southern Tigers' next target will be to make the AFC Champions League group stages, but Morais insists that a well deserved holiday will be in order before that.
Kedah coach Nidzam Adzha, meanwhile, lamented the lack of concentration which cost his team dearly.
"We had prepared for set pieces, but still conceded early in the game. It did affect our concentration after that. We gave it our best shot in the second half by using pacey players to attack them from the wings," Nidzam said.
"But once you make a mistake against good sides, they will punish you."
The sides will face each other in January's 2018 Charity Shield, with Kedah the reigning FA Cup champions.
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.