Is­mail be­lieves play­ers ready for chal­leng­ing matches in knock­out round of AFC Cup

New Straits Times - - Sport -

RE­PORTS BY DEVIN­DER SINGH devin­der@nst.com.my Darul Ta’zim de­feated Myan­mar’s Magwe 3-1 to seal a spot in the knock­out stage thanks to a hat-trick by Gabriel Guerra.

The win en­sured Darul Ta’zim fin­ished sec­ond in Group F, be­hind Global Cebu of the Philip­pines, and ad­vanced as the best­placed run­ners-up among the three Asean zone groups.

In the Asean zone semi-fi­nals, Darul Ta’zim will meet Ceres-Ne­gros of the Philip­pines in a two­legged tie on May 17 and 31 while Global face Sin­ga­pore’s Home United.

De­spite con­ced­ing in the third minute to a goal by Kyaw Swar Linn, Darul Ta’zim re­tained their com­po­sure to com­plete a com­fort­able vic­tory.

“Un­for­tu­nately, I feel we started with too much con­fi­dence un­til the op­po­nents took ad­van­tage to score a goal in the sec­ond minute,” said Darul Ta’zim coach Ben­jamin Mora.

“To make a come­back af­ter the op­po­nents scored was not easy but we suc­cess­fully dom­i­nated the game. The most im­por­tant thing was the play­ers did not let go of the chance to do their best and they worked hard un­til the end.

“I’m happy that they didn’t give up, and knew how im­por­tant the vic­tory was. And fi­nally, we got the three points to en­sure we progress to the next round.”

Felda United, how­ever, ex­ited the com­pe­ti­tion af­ter a sec­ond­half col­lapse led to a 4-1 de­feat to Viet­namese league cham­pi­ons Hanoi FC at the My Dinh Sta­dium in Hanoi.

Need­ing a win to have a chance of ad­vanc­ing in their de­but AFC Cup cam­paign, Felda were level 0-0 at half-time be­fore con­ced­ing four af­ter the break, in­clud­ing three goals in the last 12 min­utes.

Sub­sti­tute Gas­ton Cel­lerino pulled one back in stop­page-time from the penalty spot but it was too late to pre­vent Felda from fin­ish­ing at the bot­tom of Group G with five points from six matches.

Both teams re­turn to Su­per League duty this week­end with lead­ers Darul Ta’zim away to Malacca to­mor­row while Felda face Pe­nang in Batu Kawan on Sun­day. Cas­tan­heira with striker Farderin Kadir or push­ing mid­fielder Faizal Abu Bakar, who started his ca­reer as a for­ward, into a more at­tack­ing role.

De­spite the dis­ap­point­ment of last week’s re­verse in Kuan­tan, Asri hopes his play­ers will be able to fo­cus on the task at hand.

“Our main pri­or­ity is to gain pro­mo­tion to the Su­per League so we can­not take Forces for granted,” warned Asri of a team who dropped into the rel­e­ga­tion zone af­ter hav­ing six points de­ducted over late pay­ment is­sues.

“So we have to re­spect the op­po­nents, stay con­cen­trated and take a pos­i­tive mind­set into the game.

“We will be play­ing in front of our home crowd so we have to make full use of that. As much as it hurt to lose to Pa­hang, that is a dif­fer­ent com­pe­ti­tion and we will have another game com­ing in the sec­ond leg to make amends.”

Tereng­ganu, beaten by Kedah 1-0 last week, will have Lut­fulla Tu­raev and Latif Suhaimi back af­ter miss­ing the FA Cup semi­fi­nal, first leg in Alor Star through sus­pen­sion.


Darul Ta’zim’s Gabriel Guerra fails to go past Magwe keeper Kyaw Zin Phyo in their AFC Cup match in Larkin on Wed­nes­day.

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