# Muangthong United still a big hurdle for the Southern Tigers

Thai giants Muangthong United may not have their internationals – goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan and ace striker Teerasil Dangda – but four-time Malaysian Super League champions Johor Darul Takzim still have a mountain to climb in Tuesday’s second round AFC Champions League match.

The match to be played at Supachalasai Stadium in Bangkok gives Muangthong added homeground advantage plus crowd support in the stands – but playing away is never a problem for the Johor outfit. The Southern Tigers are never short of support in the stands – thanks to their die-hard fans who always there to cheer.

Kawin, who played a big role in Muangthong clinching their first trophy this season – the Toyota Mekong Club Championships with a massive 7-1 win on aggregate over Vietnam club Sanna Khanh Hoa FC – has moved to Belgian second tier club Oud-Heverlee Lueven which is owned by Thai conglomerate King Power – who also own English Premier League club Leicester City.

Muanthong won the first-leg 3-1 in Hanoi and the return-leg in Bangkok 4-0.

Teerasil who took Muangthong to the last 16 in the AFC Champions League, has moved to Japanese club Sanfrecce Hiroshima on loan.

Muangthong have roped in Brazilian hitman Jackson Avelino Coelho, who is known as “Jaja” and played for Buriram United last season. The Brazilian is expected to play twin striker’s role with countryman Heberty Fernandes.

JDT are in Bangkok without National Under-23 players Safawi Rasid, Syamer Kutty Abba and Nor Adam Azlin.

However, goalkeeper Haziq Nadzli has joined the Southern Tigers in their quest in Bangkok. Haziq was a pillar of strength in Malaysia’s march to the quarter-finals in the AFC Under-23 Championships in China before losing to South Korea for a place in the semi-finals.

Also not in Bangkok is Levere Corbing-Ong who is of mixed Barbados-Malaysia parentage after the player ran into some technical problems that affected his registration with AFC. 

For the record Muangthong denied JDT with a 3-0 win in a penalty shootout after a scoreless draw in regulation time at the same stage in 2016. But a fired up JDT hope to change that disappointment to kick-start their AFC Champions League campaign on a bright note.

JDT head coach Ulisses Morais is confident that his team will be able to overcome the Thai hurdle to face Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol in the playoff in Japan. 

“We are well prepared for the Muangthong match…it is up to us to cut down on our mistakes and be focused to face our opponents,” said the Portuguese who took JDT to their fourth Super League title apart from winning the Malaysia Cup. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH 

- Advertisement -