* Asrarudin Putra nets injury time winner in Group F match
* Favourites Kitchee FC held to 1-1 draw by East Bengal
It was a struggle throughout until international Asrarudin Putra planted the winner deep into injury to give Johor Darul Takzim a lucky 1-0 win over Singapore’s Balestier Khalsa in a Group F match in the AFC Cup at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore on Tuesday.
Still it was enough to bring “High Fives” from coach Bojan Hodak as JDT remained unbeaten after two matches but also kept their place on top after favourites Kitchee FC of Hong Kong were held to a 1-1 draw by India’s Kingfisher East Bengal at the Yuva Bharati Stadium in Kolkata.
JDT had whipped the Indian outfit 4-1 in their opening match at Johor Bahru’s Larkin Stadium the previous week.
A minute after Asrarudin scored an unexpected goal into four minutes of added time the referee blew the final whistle and Hodak was gladly exchanging high fives with the rest of the coaching staff and reserve players on the JDT bench – knowing that it was an important away victory despite fielding a depleted side due to injuries.
Missing from his starting lineup were Argentine hot-shots Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Luciano Figueroa and the towering Brazilian defender Marcos Antonio. JDT’s fourth foreign player Hariss Harun came into the match only mid-way in the second half.
A draw was written all over as the minutes ticked away but Asrarudin moved up and netted an unexpected dream goal. His teammates could not stop giving him the pats and hugs for his strike which gave the all important three points in their quest to advance from the group stage to the last 16.
JDT could have scored an easy win if only internationals Safee Sali and Amri Yahyah had been more sharp with their attempts at goal on a night when goalkeeper Izwan Tarmizi had a fairly good game between the posts.
On Wednesday, Pahang will square up against Global FC of the Philippines in a Group G match at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan. The FA Cup and Malaysia Cup champions also made a winning start to their AFC Cup campaign with a hard fought 3-2 win over Myanmar champions Yadanarbon FC in Mandalay despite playing with only 10 players from the 55th minutes after Razman Roslan was given the sack.
Global FC, the first team from the Philippines to play in the AFC Cup, were thrashed 6-1 by Hong Kong giants South China in their first match. Pahang, who knocked out JDT from the FA Cup last week in the second round, are expected to ride on their current form for their second win in the group.
RESULTS AFC CUP (GROUP F) March 10
Balestier Khalsa (Spore) 0 JDT (Mas) 1
Kingfisher East Bengal (Ind) 1 Kitchee FC (Hkg) 1