JOHOR BARU: Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) manager Ismail Ibrahim has slammed his players for making “silly mistakes” in their slim 3-2 win over Ceres in the first leg of the AFC Cup Asean Zone semi-final clash.
The former international singled out defensive midfielder Mohd Afiq Fazail and defender Dominic Tan for their below-par performances which resulted in the 2015 AFC Cup champions having to dig deep for the come-from-behind win against the Philippines club side at the Larkin Stadium on Wednesday.
JDT got their goals through midfielder Gonzalo Cabrera (17th minute), Safiq Rahim (44th minute) and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri (68th) while Ceres replied through Fernando Rodriguez (21th minute) and Bienvenido Maraa (24th minute).
“Afiq is a defensive midfielder ... his role is to do the dirty work for the team, but he didn’t. Safiq and Gabriel Guerra had to play his role ... we kept losing the ball and gave the Ceres players to much space to manoeuvre,” Ismail said at the post-match press conference.
“This is the first time that Dominic is playing in the AFC Cup and I believe he needs to improve his mental strength.”
The Southern Tigers now face a tricky return leg at the Panaad Park Football Stadium at Bacolod City in the Philippines on May 31.
“The two away goals they scored will definitely boost their confidence when they play at home. The result has made our job more difficult for the second leg, especially as it will be during the fasting month,” said Ismail.
Ceres head coach Risto Vidakovic was proud with the way his players performed against the fancied JDT.
“We are a small club compared to JDT, but my players never buckled under pressure ... and they even scored two away goals.
“I can’t complain much about the result ... sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” he said.