JOHOR BARU: Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) are in buoyant mood for Tuesday night’s AFC Cup quarter-final, first-leg match against Hong Kong’s South China.
The Southern Tigers are playing at the Larkin Stadium in Johor Baru where they are unbeaten all season. And they also have inside knowledge of their opponents as Mario Gomez was the previous manager for South China before being appointed as JDT head coach.
JDT team manager Ismail Ibrahim believes they are ready to fly again after retaining their Super League crown last Saturday.
“The players are a bit tired, but they are ready to play against South China.
“I am sure the players want to create history by becoming the first Malaysian side to reach the semi-finals,“ said Ismail in a press conference on Monday.
To strengthen their attack, JDT have roped in Argentinian attacking midfielder Leandro Velasquez from Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) II to replace compatriot Jorge Diaz who is on loan to Argentinian club Independiente.
“Leo has been training with us for the past several weeks. He now has a good understanding with Luciano Figueroa and Safiq Rahim.
“Gomez also knows about South China and their players and that will help us in the game,” said Ismail.
At the same press conference, South China defender Bojan Marisic said they would keep a close watch on striker Figueroa.“He is a world class player with years of experience playing in top leagues in Europe and South America. But Figueroa is no (Lionel) Messi as he cannot beat a team on his own,” said Marisic.