# JDT ready to make up for AFC Champions League exit
# Revamped Red Giants going for the kill at Larkin
Some familiar names will be missing from both sides when Johor Darul Takzim and Selangor square up for the Charity Shield match at the Larkin Stadium in Johor Bahru on Saturday (Feb 13).
The Southern Tigers, as JDT are popularly known, are reigning Malaysian Super League champions and holders of the Charity Shield while the Red Giants (Selangor) won the Malaysia Cup last season.
The curtain raiser is building into a thrilling encounter with Selangor, under new coach Zainal Abidin Hassan helming his homestate after quitting Pahang.
Selangor have parted ways with their Australian coach Mehmet Durakovic who won the Malaysia Cup and completed their long overdue “Mission 33” but failed to keep his job despite having another of his year until the end of 2016.
JDT are still under the charge of Mario Gomez but one familiar name who will be missing action is Johor’s “favourite son” Luciano Figueroa who has quit competitive football. He is now JDT’s assistant coach.
Zainal brought along with him four players from Pahang – goalkeeper Khairul Azhan Khalid, defender Razman Roslan, flanker R, Gopinathan and dead ball specialist Hafiz Kamal.
But two foreign players in the Selangor side – Liberian international Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh and new signing Mauro Olivi – could be the stars for the Red Giants to launch their campaign to win the league title.
The Charity Shield match will also count towards league points and thus a win for either side will be a morale booster to kick start their new M-League season. Selangor’s pre-season friendlies, however, are a cause for concern for Zainal and company but Zainal believes the Red Giants will come good.
JDT too had their pre-season shortcomings and their failure to make the AFC Champions League stands out as a sore thumb. Gomez, however, is unfazed with that. Instead, he praised his “fighters” for putting up a sterling performance in their 3-0 defeat on penalties in the playoff against Thai club Muangthong United and failed to stay afloat.
Selangor will be chasing a dream start and believe they have the firepower for a positive result after Felda United shattered JDT’s pride at the Larkin Stadium when the plantation giant knocked out the Johor outfit from the Malaysia Cup semi-finals.
It was a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat for the Southern Tigers who had been unbeaten in their own den since October 2013 and were not only hot favourites to advance to the last four but were overwhelming favourites to lift the prestigious Malaysia Cup – the most sought after silverware in Malaysian football.
JDT too landed a big name for the new season but Paulo Rangel turned out to be a misfit in the team and has been demoted to JDT II who ply their trade in the lower-tier Premier League. The league champions are expected to name a replacement for Rangel soon.
The Southern Tigers, however, have retained their two other foreigners – Singapore Hariss Harun, Brazilian defender Antonio Marcos while Argentine Jorge Diaz Pereyra is back in the team after a short break.
Felda United’s famous 2-1 win over JDT on Nov 28 is enough for Selangor to draw inspiration and go for the kill at Larkin but JDT are in no mood to deny their fans a roaring start.
A thriller is in store at Larkin this Saturday.