BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) kept pressure on Global FC after recording an easy 3-0 away win at Boeung Ket in the AFC Cup match played at National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh. Despite JDT making nine changes to their starting XI, they were still too strong for the Cambodian side.
As expected, Benjamin Mora kept his word and made changes from the side that took to the field against PKNS FC in their last match. While some incoming players were predictable, there were a few eyebrow raising ones - Dominic Tan and Haziq Nadzli made the starting XI while Mahali Jasuli and Shakir Shaari get a rare start as well.
The much-changed JDT couldn't have gotten off to a better start when they took the lead as early as the 8th minute of the match. Nazmi Faiz won the ball in midfield and played an immediate pass forward for Safawi Rasid to run onto. Sok Sovan lost the chase battle and Safawi round the keeped before slotting into an empty net.
The home side were struggling to keep the ball, let alone mount any dangerous attacks at JDT. It was all the away side with Nazmi manning things in midfield with Mahali and Shakir as the calming influence alongside him. It was only a matter of time before the visitors increased their lead, and so it transpired.
In the 26th minute, Safawi broke away on the left hand side and delivered and early cross meant for Azamuddin Akil. However, Sou Yaty was quicker off the mark but the goalkeeper completely misjudged the ball. It was left for the on-rushing Nazmi to pounce and he had the easiest of task to pump the ball into an empty goal.
The Southern Tigers could have added to the lead, a minute before half time but they spurned the opportunity to make it 3-0. Sun Sovannrithy tugged a speeding R. Gopinathan inside the box and the referee judged that to be a foul. However, Azamuddin Akil's effort to the right side of the keeper was guessed right by Sou Yaty to keep the score at two nil going into the break.
It was a much quieter affair in the second half as JDT took their foot off the pedal and resisted the urge to push too many bodies forward. The poor pitch also played a part as players, especially the visitors were seemingly picking up muscle injuries as the game went on.
Boeung Ket started to have more possession but it was of a sterile nature. Tomoki Muramatsu tried to made things work for the home side but his team mates just weren't on the same wavelength nor showing the same desire as the Japanese. Haziq remains largely untested throughout the 90 minutes.
At the end, in the second minute of injury time, substitute Gabriel Guerra came on to score the third goal after being put through via a long ball from S. Kunanlan. The early goals had cut the oxygen away from the Boeung Ket side and it former AFC Cup champions coasted for most of the match. Nazmi shone in midfield but everyone else were playing within themselves, given how little threat the opponent were.
On a difficult pitch, JDT did what was necessary and got the three points. With Global winning their own match day 5 encounter, it does look like top spot will be out of grasp for the former AFC Cup champions. But with 10 points on the board and the chance to pick up another three against Magwe FC at home, they are well on their way to be the best runners-up.