# JDT wants another chapter of Malaysian and AFC football history
# Top guns from the government and private sector head to Dushanbe to support JDT
# Banners and buntings go up in Johor Bahru to hail JDT’s historic’s AFC Cup final
# JDT to play Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol in Dushanbe on Oct 31
Super League champions Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) arrived in Dushanbe in the wee hours on Wednesday (afternoon Malaysian time) after a tiring journey via Dubai from Changi for Saturday’s AFC Cup final against Tajikistan club FC Istiklol.
It will be a first for both teams and this is also the first time that two teams are meeting in the final of the second tier regional tournament through the back door after FIFA slapped a ban on the Kuwait FA for government interference in running the association – which effectively ruled out their semi-final opponents from Kuwait.
The first-leg semi-final matches were already played when the FIFA ban came into force. JDT lost their first-leg semi-final against Qadsia SC 3-1 while Istiklol were beaten 4-0 by Kuwait SC.
But it stops at that. It does not matter how the two teams made the final. JDT, the Malaysian Super League champions last year and this year have already created Malaysian football history.
The Southern Tigers are the first team from Malaysia to have reached the semi-finals in the AFC Cup. Malaysia’s previous best was reaching the quarter-finals but Selangor, Perak, Kelantan and Pahang never made the last four.
Come this Saturday, JDT are on the verge of rewriting AFC Cup history yet again and nothing has been short in their preparations for the biggie in Dushanbe.
JDT will not be short of support in the stands. Die hard JDT fans have made their way to the Tajikistan city. Top guns in the government and private sector have joined the euphoria and headed to Dushanbe.
The whole of Johor has been talking about the AFC Cup. JDT have qualified for the Malaysia Cup quarter-final after their 3-0 win over Sarawak in their last Group B match in Kuching.
The Malaysia Cup, the most sought after silverware in Malaysian football, remains elusive for the JDT. But that takes a back seat for now as coach Mario Gomez whips his players into shape for the match against Istiklol.
There is good news that Luciano Figueroa has been cleared to play against the Tajikistan club for a red card offence.
Both, JDT and Istiklol are first time finalists and this means a new name will be engraved on the silverware.
Major roads leading to the Johor Bahru city are decked with buntings congratulating JDT for reaching the AFC Cup final – giving Johor football another big boost.
JDT are now considered the best football team in the country and highly favoured to win the prestigious Malaysia Cup.
But for now the focus is the AFC Cup and all eyes are on Dushanbe.