JDT striker Safee Sali (centre) is expected to be out for at least four weeks.
JOHOR BARU: Johor Darul Ta’zim’s (JDT) slim 1-0 victory over Kelantan in their opening Malaysia Cup Group C match came with a heavy price as striker Safee Sali picked up a serious injury.
The national striker was stretchered off the pitch in the 16th minute and was substituted by Safiq Rahim who went on to score the winning goal in the 72nd minute at the Larkin Stadium on Wednesday.
Safee is expected to be out for at least four weeks as he is down with acute tendonitis on his left leg.
Safee’s absence is a bitter blow to JDT as they are already without Mahali Jasuli, Mohd Irfan Fazail and Mohd Amirulhadi Zainal.
“We had to put Norshahrul (Idlan Talaha) as our lone striker after Safee picked up the injury. On top of that, forward Luciano Figueroa was suspended for the match,” said JDT coach Bojan Hodak.
“We deserved to beat Kelantan, but I was not impressed with the showing of the national players except for Mohd Aidil Zafuan (Abdul Razak). Rightback Aidil put up a sterling performance for us.”
The Croatian said the national players were all tired after representing Malaysia in a friendly against Tajikistan in Dushabe last week.
On their next match against Armed Forces at the Larkin Stadium on Aug 19, Hodak said: “Figueroa and Mohd Amri Yahyah will be back from suspension and we are hopeful that Jorge Diaz, who is in Argentina to visit his ailing father, is back in time.”
As for Kelantan coach George Boateng, he was full of praise for his players after a strong performance against the Super League champions.
“We had a couple of good chances. We had a goal ruled offside and a strong penalty claim turned down by the referee,” he said, adding that the Red Warriors would bounce back in their home match against Penang on Aug 19.