* Massive crowds welcome Super League champions
* JDT ready to play South China boost for AFC Cup quarter-final
Malaysia Super League champions Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) got themselves in mood for tomorrow’s first-leg AFC Cup quarter-final match against Hong Kong’s South China at Johor Bahru’s Larkin Stadium.
And the Larkin Stadium was the venue of massive celebrations on Sunday night when the Southern Tigers, who retained the Super League title on Saturday, were given a rousing welcome by their fans and supporters.
The JDT team returned home from Kuala Lumpur on Sunday. The welcome celebrations began from the Skudai Toll Plaza. The players and team officials with the silverware were on an open decked JDT bus which was decorated with Johor state flags.
Johor FA patron HRH Brig Gen Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, who is also the Crown Prince of Johor, joined in the celebrations and thanked all those who have made JDT’s success possible.
Thousands of Johoreans wearing JDT colours lined up the route from the Skudai Toll Plaza to the Larkin Stadium.
The procession took the victorious JDT team through the EDL Highway before entering the Inner Ring Road, Johor Bahru Waterfront, Danga Bay and back to Jalan Wong Ah Fook – the City’s main thoroughfare, passing past City Square and JBCC (Komtar) and on to Court Mammoth in Jalan Tun Abdul Razak.
From there it was on to the Jalan Tun Abdul Razak roundabout, Bomba Larkin and on to the Kebun Teh Commercial Centre, Sekolah Foon Yew 3 before the procession ended at the Larkin Stadium.
There were also fireworks as the players paraded the silverware inside the stadium while fans and supporters took the opportunity to take selfies with their idols and Tunku Ismail.
For coach Mario Gomez the AFC Cup is another “important hurdle” to clear in JDT’s quest to take the game to a higher level.
It will not be an easy match although Gomez was South China’s head coach before joining the Southern Tigers in mid-season – taking over the hot seat from Croatian Bojan Hodak.
“Winning the Super League is good for my career too. There is more hard work to be done. The League Cup is a good boost,” said Gomez.
Meanwhile, Pahang who would have landed the Super League title if they had won their match against Terengganu, will take on Tajikistan outfit FC Istiklol in their AFC Cup quarter-final (first-leg) in Dushanbe on Wednesday.
Pahang lost 3-1 to Terengganu in Kuala Terengganu to finish runners-up to JDT in the Super League with 44 points – behind JDT’s 46 points.