# Southern Tigers ready to roar again at the Larkin Stadium in AFC Cup semi-final

# JDT to play Indian champions JSW Bengaluru in first-leg on Wednesday


By Rizal Abdullah

Johor Darul Takzim tore T-Team (Terengganu FC II) to pieces for a commanding 5-1 win at home on Saturday before lifting the League Cup for a night of celebrations.

However, the celebrations are now forgotten and if there are more celebrations for winning the Malaysian Super League title for three years in a row they have been put on hold.

JDT have another important mission – to retain the AFC Cup. That mission begins at the Larkin Stadium in the first-leg semi-final on Wednesday.

The Malaysian football fraternity is keeping an eye on JDT’s AFC Cup mission. JDT created Malaysian football history as the first team from Malaysia to win the Asian title after a 1-0 win over Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol in the final in Dushanbe.

The Johor outfit already have three silverwares in the cabinet this season. Apart from retaining the League Cup the Southern Tigers also added the FA Cup to their collection after retaining the Charity Shield in the M-League curtain raiser.

All eyes will be on JDT’s foreign firepower, especially the Argentines who have become the pillars in the team. Coach Mario Gomez has done wonders with the team and on the field Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Juan Martin Lucero have made scoring look so easy.

In tough tackling Brazilian defender Marcos Antonio the Southern Tigers have a general who commands respects and not forgetting Singapore international Hariss Harun.

Locals Safiq Rahim, Azammuddin Akil, Fazly Mazlan, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak, Amirulhadi Zainal, Izham Tarmizi, Amri Yahyah, S. Kunanlan, S. Chanturu – all can be counted upon to deliver when it matters.

Gomez said celebrating the Super League title stopped once the team’s focus was switched to the AFC Cup.

“Winning and enjoying is one thing but it is important to win,” said the former South China (Hong Kong) coach who was handpicked by club owner Brig Gen Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, who is also the Crown Prince of Johor.

In the two-leg quarter-finals JDT advanced on a 3-2 aggregate after winning the return-leg 2-1 at the Larkin Stadium. The first-leg at the Mongkok Stadium in Hong Kong ended in a 1-1 draw.

Bengaluru won the first-leg at home 1-0 with the return-leg at the Jalan Besar Stadium ending in a scoreless draw.

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