Coach Benjamin Mora backed new signing Mohammed Ghaddar to become a Southern Tigers' sensation, despite the Lebanese striker's failure to score in the 1-0 win by Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) over PKNS FC on Wednesday night.
But Ghaddar provided the assist for Amirulhadi Zainal to turn home the winner in the 79th minute. It was an important contribution after he missed some sitters in his JDT debut.
"For me, it is only a matter of time before Ghaddar starts scoring. He was not the sharpest, but he is a striker who scores, so let's give him some time. He will adapt soon," Mora said.
Ghaddar smashed home 18 goals for Kelantan until early May, which prompted JDT to splurge a record fee, believed to be around RM5 million.
He was causing the PKNS defence problems all night with his clever runs and speed. But the lack of finishing meant JDT were made to push until late in the game to secure the win.
"We all know how capable he is in front of goal. I thought he did really well, despite not scoring. He is a hardworking and intelligent player, and we will see goals from him," JDT defender Marcos Antonio said of his new teammate.
Amirulhadi's winner preserved JDT's six-point lead in the MSL, but Mora refused to take anything for granted.
"We are never comfortable until we win the championship. We still need to work a lot and improve further as a team. We will now focus our attention on the AFC Cup, before the players head for their international duties," Mora.
JDT will travel to Philippines to take on Ceres-Negros in the ASEAN zonal semifinal second leg on May 31, armed with a 3-2 advantage.
With Malaysia involved in international action in June and the fasting month of Ramadan, the MSL will take a six-week break before resuming in the first week of July.