IPOH: Three-time Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) will not push the panic button after seeing their unbeaten run come to an abrupt end.
The Southern Tigers went down 1-2 to Perak at the Perak Stadium on Saturday to lose their 25-match unbeaten run since 2015. JDT now lie a lowly eighth in the 12-team standings on five points from one win and two draws.
“We are the three-time winners (2014-2016) and our opponents treat every game against us a like a Cup final. So, there is a possibility we will drop points and lose matches ... but our target remains the same (to be champions again). I still believe we can achieve it,” said head coach Benjamin Mora yesterday.
Playing in front of their vociferous crowd, Chilean-born Palestine striker Yashir Pinto gave Perak the lead after seven minutes. But two minutes later JDT equalised through Ahmad Hazwan Bakri.
Bulgarian striker Vladislav Mirchev then secured all the points for Perak with a close-range effort in the 74th minute.
“We played against a tough opponent who took their chances well. We didn’t do a bad job ourselves. We just need to be more clinical with our chances,” said Mora.
JDT’s biggest drawback was losing two of their star imports – Argentine strikers Juan Lucero and Jorge Diaz – this season. The duo scored 43 goals between them in all competitions last season to power JDT to the Super League and FA Cup crowns.
“We are in the process of rebuilding the team, having included seven new young players and three new foreigners. We can only get better as the season progresses,” said the 38-year-old Mora, who was brought in to replace Argentine Mario Gomez on Jan 18.
“Expectations can kill you. At the moment a lot is expected from us. But in reality we need more time to get the team to play the style that we want to. We will now go back and work harder in training to improve,” he added.
JDT’s next assignment is the AFC Cup. They host Cambodian side Boeung Ket Angkor in their Group F opener at the Larkin Stadium tomorrow.