* Super League champions JDT held to a 1-1 draw by South China in first-leg quarter-finals
* South China take an away goal advantage for the return-leg at Mongkok Stadium on Sept 15
When many thought Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) would take inspiration after retain the Malaysian Super League title over the weekend the Southern Tigers were held to a 1-1 draw by Hong Kong’s South China FC in the first-leg AFC Cup quarter-final match at Johor Bahru’s Larkin Stadium on Tuesday.
In fact the visitors put up an inspiring performance at JDT’s fortress and could have walked away with a win if not for goalkeeper Izham Tarmizi’s performance between the posts when he stopped a couple of sure goals with his quick reflexes.
South China led by Chan Wai Ho, were the more dangerous side on the night although Luciano Figueroa was also threatening each time he was on the ball.
And the Argentine, who scored 12 goals in the Super League, put JDT in the lead after 49 minutes via a penalty after South China’s Moses Mensah was hauled up for hands just inside the box.
But South China, coached by Brazilian Casemiro Mior, never gave up and fittingly drew level 63rd minute when midfielder Awal Mahama got the better of S. Kunanlan in his challenge for the ball and tucked it home with a delightful right footed attempt into the far corner.
Izham Tarmizi is not to be blamed for conceding the goal as it was an unstoppable shot on night when he brought off several sure goals.
Awal was always a threat but he could not get the better of Izham after his goal and even South China skipper Wai Ho was at times seen shaking his head.
The return-lg at the Mongkok Stadium on Sept 15 will be uphill task for JDT with South China riding on the all important away goal as an advantage.
South China came with a mission – to share points and get an away goal. And this is what they got and the deserve credit for that.
Another Malaysian side will be in action on Wednesday when Super League runners-up Pahang will take on Istiklol FC of Tajikistan in Dushanbe in another first-leg quarter-final match.