Hazwan Bakri aims to inspire JDT with goals in Malaysia Cup final
Having scored three times in the last two Malaysia Cup finals, Ahmad Hazwan Bakri will be hoping to make a big impact again when Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) face Kedah this Saturday.
Playing for his previous club Selangor, Hazwan was the match winner for Selangor in 2015 as he grabbed both goals in a 2-0 win over Kedah to help the Red Giants clinch a record 33rd Malaysia Cup.
Last year, the striker fired the equaliser against Kedah in one of his last acts in a Selangor shirt. However, Kedah would end up winning the 2016 trophy on penalties before Hazwan secured a big-money move to JDT for the 2017 season.
"If there is an opportunity, I want to play in the Malaysia Cup final again. This time it will be different, with a JDT team that has yet to clinch the trophy," Hazwan told Berita Harian.
"Everyone in the team is ready for this big game, and I can see how we are improving all the time."
Hazwan has been a bit part player for the four-time Malaysia Super League (MSL) champions this season.
But he was surprisingly rested for the final league clash against Kedah last Saturday, which ended in a goalless draw. It is a hint that JDT head coach Ulisses Morais may be planning to use the forward's big-game experience to unlock Kedah at Shah Alam Stadium.
But Hazwan knows the Red Eagles will be formidable foes, having already clinched the Charity Shield and FA Cup titles this season.
"Every final is different... past results can't really be taken into account. We know Kedah's strengths with their short passing game, but we can match them," Hazwan said.
JDT boast a superior head-to-head record, having beaten Kedah five times in the last nine meetings in all competitions since 2013.
Their league matches ended 1-1 and 0-0, with Kedah prevailing on penalties in January's curtain raiser to lift the Charity Shield.
While Kedah will make their third consecutive appearance in the showcase match, JDT have advanced to only their second Malaysia Cup final after being losing finalists in 2014.
They fell to 10-man Pahang three years ago after former striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha missed his spot kick in the penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw after extra time.
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.