KUALA LUMPUR: Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) clinched the Super League crown for the ninth straight time with four matches to spare tonight and setting a record in domestic football that will be hard for other teams to emulate.
The Southern Tigers, coached by Hector Bidoglio, did it in style too by hammering Negeri Sembilan 5-0 at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium in Iskandar Puteri while their closest challengers, Sabah FC went down 2-0 to Terengganu at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Kuala Nerus.
JDT, who now have 46 points from 18 matches, cannot be caught by Sabah, who have 36 points but with just three matches left to play.
By winning the 2022 Super League title, the Southern Tigers earned an automatic spot in next season’s Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League, giving them a chance to try and do better than this season, having lost in the knockout round.
This is indeed a double joy for JDT as their feeder club, JDT II were crowned Premier League champions yesterday.
In tonight’s action, JDT took a comfortable 2-0 first-half lead with a two-minute blitz by young winger Arif Aiman Mohd Hanapi (35th minute) and Leandro Velazquez (37th minute) before Arif Aiman added his second - and the team’s third - three minutes after the break.
Not wanting to be left out, Brazilian import Bergson da Silva then exploded with two goals in the 60th and 88th minutes to be the leading hitman with 24 goals. Teammate Fernando Forestieri is second with 13 goals.
In Kuala Nerus, a Pape Diakite goal in the seventh minute and another by Nik Sharif Haseefy Lazim (30th minute) ensured Terengganu, who are coached by Mohd Nafuzi Mohd Zain, take home all three points and condemn Sabah to their fourth straight loss.
Meanwhile, the presence of former national head coach Tan Cheng Hoe with Selangor FC seemed to have the expected impact as the Red Giants, who have been having a yo-yo season, carved out a stylish 5-0 win over Melaka United at the Petaling Jaya City Council Stadium.
The Red Giants got their goals through Nor Hakim Hassan (16th minute), Muhammad Mukhairi Ajmal Mahadi (32nd minute), Brendan Gan (66th and 78th minutes) and Herlison Caion (90th minute).
Over at the Darul Aman Stadium in Alor Setar, V. Ruventhiran’s 69th-minute goal was enough for visitors Petaling Jaya (PJ) City FC to beat Kedah Darul Aman (KDA) FC 1-0.
At the State Stadium in Kuching, visitors Sri Pahang FC turned on the style to trounce Sarawak United 4-1.-Bernama