Ulisses Morais says the 5-0 whipping of Terengganu by Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) in the Malaysia Cup on Tuesday night was the perfect prelude to their Malaysia Super League (MSL) coronation this weekend.
Morais' men secured progression to the last eight after goals from Safawi Rasid, Fadhli Shas, S. Kunanlan, Ahmad Hazwan Bakri and Darren Lok. They will join the already qualified Selangor from Group D, who play Sarawak on Wednesday night.
"On my first day at Johor, I already had high confidence in JDT winning the league, and now we are getting closer to winning it," said Morais via the Southern Tigers Facebook page.
The Portuguese head coach also commended the solidarity of his team, who were short at the back against Terengganu.
"Previously, we had four centre-backs in Marcos Antonio, Fadhli Shas, Junior Eldstal and Aidil Zafuan, but we now are down to three. But our confidence is still the same without Marcos," he added.
The Brazilian defender was injured in the 2-1 win over Perak in the MSL on July 26, and will now undergo surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament in Portugal.
The victory at Larkin Stadium means JDT could face Group C leaders Kedah in the last eight.
Selangor are mostly likely to overcome a poor Sarawak side at home, so the showdown between them and JDT on Sep. 9 at Larkin Stadium will determine who faces defending champions, Kedah.
Morais, who has now won eight matches since taking charge in June, was also grateful for the strength in depth of his squad.
"We do not have a fixed team because we have 29 players who are good enough to start any game," he said.
"Although I have won eight games since taking over, I cannot be too satisfied. At JDT, we always want to win and will do our best to achieve it.
"What is important is the players understanding with each other, and the tactics from the coaches in training and games."
Pahang look strong contenders to join Group A leaders PKNP FC in the quarterfinals after their 6-0 annihilation of the second-tier side.
Felda United and Perak are through from Group B, while Kelantan and Melaka United will fight to join Kedah in Group C.
Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) confirmed qualification to the last eight of the Malaysia Cup with a 5-0 trouncing of Terengganu, as Pahang and T-Team also notched big wins on Tuesday night.
Unlike the full-strength line up fielded in the 2-0 win over Sarawak at the weekend, JDT went for an all local cast at Larkin Stadium, and quickly had the game wrapped up with three first-half goals.
Pahang went goal crazy in Kuantan, hammering second-tier PKNP FC 6-0 to replace Negeri Sembilan in second place in Group A.
Joseph Kalang Tie and Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria both picked up braces for Pahang, with Afif Amiruddin and Matheus Alves also getting in on the act.
T-Team helped themselves to second by thrashing Negeri Sembilan 4-1 in Kuala Terengganu.
In Group C, defending champions Kedah also sealed qualification to the quarterfinals with a 1- 0 victory over UiTM FC.
At Larkin Stadium, the Southern Tigers were eager to redeem themselves having finished bottom of their group last year.
JDT did not have to wait long to take the lead in the Group D clash as Safawi Rasid tucked home from six yards after Azamuddin Akil was fouled in the penalty box.
Eager to build on their advantage, JDT continued pressing and extended their lead through Fadhli Shas in the 38th minute.
The game was done and dusted in first-half added time, with S. Kunanlan joining in the act to confirm the three points.
Ahmad Hazwan Bakri added to the goal fest with a fourth three minutes after the break, before English-born substitute Darren Lok made it 5-0 10 minutes from the end.
The win temporarily puts JDT on top on Group D, but they could be bumped down if Selangor win against Sarawak on Wednesday.
Other results saw already qualified Perak beat Kuala Lumpur 2-0, while Felda United continued their hot streak with a 3-2 win over PKNS FC.
Johor Darul Ta'zim: Izham Tarmizi (GK) (C), Afiq Fazail, Amirulhadi Zainal, Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, Azrif Nasrulhaq, S.Kunanlan,Junior Eldstal,Fadhli Shas, Safawi Rasid (Darren Lok 64'), Azamuddin Akil, Nazmi Faiz
Terengganu: Syazwan Yusoff (GK), Adam Othman, Izuan Jarudin, Lazaro Vinicius (C), Gabriel Davis, Amirul Syahmi, Ferris Danial, Ezaidy Khadar, Abdul Latiff Suhaimi, Hafizal Mohamad, Hazeman AB Karim