Tuesday, 12 August 2014 | MYT 10:32 PM
Hodak getting the jitters as JDT unprepared for Malaysia Cup
JDT's Argentinian striker Jorge Diaz (second left) has returned home to tend to his ailing father. - filepic
PETALING JAYA: Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) coach Bojan Hodak is feeling hot under the collar.
The Croatian has the best players in the country but is unable to field his strongest line-up ahead of their opening Malaysia Cup campaign against Kelantan on Wednesday.
The Southern Tigers will be without three regulars, including ace striker Jorge Diaz who has returned to Argentina indefinitely to be with his ailing father.
To compound their misery, they will also be without suspended Argentine striker Luciano Figueroa and versatile attacker Mohd Amri Yahyah.
Attacking midfielders Mohd Irfan Fazail and Mohd Amirulhadi Zainal are sidelined through injuries.
Seven other JDT players – Mahali Jasuli, Mohd Aidil Zafuan Razak, Mohd Fadhli Shas, Safiq Rahim, Asraruddin Putra Omar, Safee Sali and Norshahrul Idlan Talaha who – are fatigued after their return from national team assignment last week.
With his main attacking players out of the team, Hodak has demanded underperforming strikers Norshahrul and Safee to step up their game.
“We are hit by injuries and suspensions ... the players returning from national duty are still tired after their almost 24-hour flight and they had only started training on Monday,” said the 42-year-old coach.
“But these things are beyond our control ... we can’t do much about it and I think we still have the quality to get a win from this match.
“We have several internationals in the team and they must live up to expectation and be professional when picked to play. They will have to go out and win this match even more because we will be playing at home.”
Kelantan are also facing the same predicament with JDT.
The Red Warriors’ Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Shawky has gone AWOL and their former World Cup signing from Ghana – Prince Tagoe is struggling to find a place in the first team.
Hodak added that the east coast giants will be formidable opponents despite finishing a disappointing sixth in the 12-team Super League.
“Kelantan’s involvement in the AFC Cup clearly affected their form in the Super League but without any distractions they will be tough to beat,” said the stoic Croatian.