PETALING JAYA: Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) hitmen Luciano Figueroa and Jorge Diaz will be at the Shah Alam Stadium with their scoring boots on.
A relieved JDT coach Bojan Hodak believes that the Argentine duo are finally back at their best after recovering from injuries and will start them against Selangor.
This will be the first time the duo will be in the starting XI since the season-opener Charity Shield against Pahang on Jan 31.
Last week, JDT suffered back-to-back defeats in the absence of the two strikers and it was also the first time they failed to score in back-to-back games since May 2013.
The Southern Tigers were outplayed and knocked out in the second round of the AFC Champions League qualifying round after losing 3-0 to Bangkok Glass FC on Feb 10. Then, last Saturday, the wasteful JDT side suffered a 1-0 shock defeat to Super League newcomers Police.
Figueroa and Diaz have fully recovered from a hamstring injury and a stomach ailment respectively and are ready to play a full game.
“We should have beaten Police but for the number of missed chances. In football, you’re only as good as your last game. So, we need to do much better now,” said the 43-year-old Croatian coach.
“It’s still early in the season but defeats like this should not happen. The pressure is always there to win all matches and to raise our game.
“Figueroa and Diaz will play in this game (against Selangor) as they looked sharp in training. We have some players injured but I don’t think it will affect our game plan too much since we have depth on the bench.”
Hodak knows they will have to be wary of the winless Selangor, who lost to Terengganu (2-0) and drew with Pahang (1-1).
The Klang Valley giants are going through a lean spell – without a trophy for four seasons. They are also likely to miss defender Robert Cornthwaite, winger Andik Vermansyah and goalkeeper Norazlan Razali for the match due to injuries.
Hodak too will be without influential defensive midfielder Mohd Shakir Shaari, who picked up a knee injury.
But the coach believes he has enough options in midfield.
“Selangor are still a good side despite being on a decline ... they still have quality and a lot of younger players who are hungry for success,” said Hodak.
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