Johor Darul Ta’zim to face Bengaluru FC in AFC Cup semifinals
Bengaluru, October 18: On Wednesday Safee Sali will be tasked to fire Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) into their second consecutive AFC Cup final match, when the Southern Tigers would face Bengaluru FC from India.
On September 28, the match had got a 1-1 first leg semifinal draw at the Larkin Stadium. The defending champions would face a tall order in the return leg after Juan Martin Lucero and Jorge Pereyra Diaz had received cautions. They would miss the encounter at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru, reports espn.in.
Mario Gomez is left with only Safee as the club’s recognizable striker.But the Argentine is keeping faith with the former national striker, whom he says is capable of finding the goals.”Safee has not played many games this season, but he is in good physical shape and I’m sure he can score if given the chance,” Gomez told ESPN FC. “He is ready for this game and wants to do well.”JDT, who headed to India via Singapore on Monday, will sorely miss the absence of their Argentine strikers.
Between them, Lucero and Diaz have struck 12 times out of the 32 goals JDT have scored in the competition so far.Bengaluru have also grown in confidence since the last time both teams slugged it out in the group stages.
The Indian champions, helmed by former Barcelona assistant Albert Roca, were well worth their money in the 1-0 aggregate victory over Singapore’s Tampines Rovers, before another gutsy performance earned them a crucial away goal in Larkin.
But Gomez is not perturbed, and is focused on the mission at hand.”We only need one goal to go through. Bengaluru are a good side, but we know our capabilities.
Besides Safee, I also have Safiq Rahim who has scored a lot of goals in this tournament. Both Safee and Safiq will play important roles for us,” said Gomez.
The seven-goal captain will be the creative engine force for JDT against Bengaluru, and could link up with Azamuddin Akil as the supply line for Safee.If Azamuddin is thrust in a deeper role against Bengaluru, Azrif Nasrulhaq or S. Chanturu could take his place on the right wing.
The other semifinal sees Al-Quwa Al-Jawi of Iraq welcoming the visit of Lebanon’s Al-Ahed on Tuesday, with both sides also tied at 1-