Five-time Malaysian Super League champions Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) have rekindled their AFC Champions League hopes with a shock 1-0 win over defending champions Kashima Antlers of Japan in a Group E match in the month of Ramadan.
International Syafiq Ahmad struck the winner on 67 minutes – who left his markers trailing with a brilliant solo attempt when he sent a curling shot that beat Kwoun Sun-Tae all the way for a historic win at the Larkin Stadium.
It is the first-ever win by a Malaysian team in the AFC Champions League. Although the Southern Tigers remain at the bottom of the table, the three points off the Japanese giants gives the Johor outfit hope.
This, however, will very much depend on the final round of matches on May – which also falls in the month of Ramadan. JDT’s outside chance can be realized if they beat Korea’s Gyeongnam FC away with a good score and at the same time hope Kashima lose to China’s Shandong Luneng to advance to the Round of 16.
Shandong has already qualified with 11 points from five matches with Kashima in second place with seven points, Gyeongnam ahead of with five points. JDT has four points. – RIZAL ABDULLAH