Danger awaits Darul Ta’zim

New Straits Times - - Sport -

Ta’zim are in danger of ex­it­ing the AFC Cup when they play Ceres Ne­gros of the Philip­pines in the zonal semi-fi­nal re­turn leg in Ba­colod City to­day.

The former cham­pi­ons only hold a one-goal ad­van­tage fol­low­ing the 3-2 win in the first leg at Larkin Sta­dium on May 17.

Ceres, who did not field a sin­gle Filipino-born player in the first leg, be­lieve they can over­turn the re­sult and reach the zonal fi­nal.

The Malaysian side have a medi­ocre record on the road with only one win in three matches while Ceres have notched two wins and one draw at home.

Darul Ta’zim may have prob­lems in de­fence as cen­tre-backs Aidil Za­fuan Radzak and Fadhli Shas did not travel with the team.

Mar­cos An­to­nio is the only nat­u­ral cen­tre-back and the Brazil­ian is ex­pected to part­ner Do­minic Tan, Has­bul­lah Abu Bakar or Amir­ul­hadi Zainal in the heart of de­fence.

Ar­gen­tine striker Gabriel Guerra is ea­ger to find the net to­day fol­low­ing a bad day in the first leg.

“I want to score goals to­mor­row. But we need to be cau­tious.

“Ceres are built around Span­ish for­wards Bien­venido Mara­non and Fer­nando Ro­driguez along with mid­fielder Manuel Ott, and we need to pay at­ten­tion to the three play­ers,” said Guer- ra, who has net­ted seven goals in the com­pe­ti­tion.Mara­non and Ro­driguez were Ceres’ goal scor­ers in the first leg.

Darul Ta’zim face a fur­ther hand­i­cap as they have only three avail­able for­eign­ers in An­to­nio, Guerra, and at­tack­ing mid­fielder Gon­zalo Cabr­era.

New sign­ing Mo­hammed Ghad­dar can­not play as the trans­fer win­dow for the AFC Cup only opens later in the sea­son.

Coach Ben­jamin Mora said: “We only have a one-goal ad­van­tage and play­ing de­fen­sively will be risky. We can­not give space to Ceres as they are ag­gres­sive. They are a team that are not afraid to go for­ward and score goals.

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