Mora’s side in the mood for Ceres clash

New Straits Times - - Sport -

FOR­MER cham­pi­ons Darul Ta’zim hope to trans­late their re­cent fine form in the do­mes­tic league against Ceres Ne­gros FC of the Philip­pines in the zonal semi-fi­nals first leg of the AFC Cup at Larkin Sta­dium to­day.

How­ever, Darul Ta’zim, who lead the Su­per League, may face anx­ious mo­ments in de­fence as cen­tre-backs Aidil Za­fuan Radzak and Fadhli Shas are injured.

In their ab­sences, the club need to choose among Do­minic Tan, Amir­ul­hadi Zainal and Has­bul­lah Abu Bakar to part­ner Brazil­ian cen­tre-back Mar­cos An­to­nio in the heart of de­fence.

Do­minic is a nat­u­ral cen­tre­back while Has­bul­lah is a right­back with Amir­ul­hadi more suited for the de­fen­sive mid­field po­si­tion.

Coach Ben­jamin Mora needs to de­cide on the best op­tion as Ceres are equally good in at­tack­ing as Darul Ta’zim with each hav­ing scored 16 goals so far in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Ceres’ Bien­venido More­jon is the joint lead­ing scorer with Darul Ta’zim’s Safiq Rahim with seven goals each.

The 20-year-old Do­minic is a de­pend­able cen­tre-back and forms a good un­der­stand­ing with An­to­nio but tends to lose con­cen­tra­tion when pres­sured.

“The good news is that Afiq Fazail will be avail­able to play in the de­fen­sive mid­field po­si­tion and his duty will be to stop Ceres’ at­tack­ing play­ers,” said Is­mail.

“Do­minic and Has­bul­lah have been promis­ing in matches while Amir­ul­hadi is an ex­pe­ri­enced player. I can part­ner any of them... it does not mat­ter to me,” said An­to­nio

“Ceres are an at­tack­ing team and I be­lieve they will not hold back to­mor­row,” said An­to­nio, whose team will face Ceres again in the re­turn leg in Panaad on May 31.

Ceres coach Risto Vi­dakovic is con­fi­dent his team will give a good show and maybe end Darul Ta’zim proud record at home to­day.

“We have no in­jury is­sues. Darul Ta’zim are strong at home but we are pre­pared for them. We need to give our 100 per cent com­mit­ment and also play to our strength for a good re­sult,” said Vi­dakovic.

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