EXPERIENCE TO POWER JDT
Ismail believes players ready for challenging matches in knockout round of AFC Cup
REPORTS BY DEVINDER SINGH firstname.lastname@example.org 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.