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Johor: AFC Cup reigning champions Johor Darul Ta’zim opened their 2016 campaign by winning the Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Cup after beating Selangor on penalties following a 1-1 draw at the Larkin Stadium on Saturday.

It was JDT who broke the deadlock right on the stroke of halftime, when Hariss Harun did well to beat Robert Cornthwaite inside the six-yard box and meet Safiq Rahim’s corner with a thumping header into the back of the net.

However, the Red Giants equalised in the 60th minute when Hafiz Kamal lined up a freekick on the right and, with everyone expecting him to swing in a cross, went straight for goal and caught Farizal Marlias out with a sublime 25-yard effort at the near post.

With neither side able to find the winner in the remaining half-hour, the tie was then decided by penalties – where it was Selangor defender Azrif Nashrulhaq who faced the misfortune of failing to convert the crucial spot-kick which ultimately handed Darul Ta’zim a 7-6 victory in the shootout.

Although the Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Cup is the traditional curtain raiser to the new Malaysian football season, pitting the reigning Super League champions against the previous year’s winners of the Malaysia Cup, it also counts as a league match – meaning both JDT and Selangor had to settle for a point in their campaign opener.

The two teams are also in action in the AFC Cup in just over a week’s time with Harimau Selatan hosting Myanmar’s Ayeyawady United in Group H, while the latter visit Philippine outfit Ceres La Salle in Group E.

Mario Gomez’s JDT side will head into the tournament as defending champions, after they made a remarkable run to the final before beating Istiklol 1-0 last year to become the competition’s first winners from the East Zone.