A beating – and a lesson for JDT

  • Football
  • Friday, 14 Feb 2020

Too fast, too furious: Vissel Kobe midfielder Andres Iniesta (left) running with the ball with JDT defender S. Kunalan hot on his heels during the match in Kobe on Wednesday. — AFP

PETALING JAYA: It was a 5-1 drubbing – but for Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) it was also a lesson well learnt from J-League club Vissel Kobe.

Vissel, with star names like Andres Iniesta, Thomas Vermaelen and Gotoku Sakai, played the Super League champions off the park with their brilliant football in their opening Group G AFC Champions League match.

The Southern Tigers had no answer to the movements made by the team, brilliantly orchestrated by World Cup winner Iniesta.

For JDT coach Benjamin Mora, the defeat was painful as he had wanted his team to make an excellent first impression at the Neuvir Stadium in Kobe.

“We did not come to lose, and of course, we did not come to concede five goals. We faced an excellent team, a team that know how to play football,” summed up the disappointed Mexican at the post-match conference on Wednesday.

“Vissel have a lot of quality individuals. As a team, they play very well. They know what to do in a tactical situation, in the attacking phase, they are very dynamic and know how to take advantage of any space we leave,

“We were unable to have the ball as we are used to. It was hard to see that we were losing some challenges. We were not able to get to the actions as soon as we needed to.”

In the first-half, JDT were trailing 1-2, and Mora felt that taking an attacking approach would tilt the game towards them, but it backfired.

“We had two options – to sit back and wait for a counter-attack or try to play football.

“We decided to play. We were brave enough to try. Of course, with the risk of conceding more goals – which we did.

“It is not a good result for us, but on the other hand, the experience was good.”

Iniesta, widely regarded as one of the best playmakers in the world, was pulling strings in midfield with his passes and movement as JDT found it hard to get the ball away from him.

The Spaniard ended proceedings with a 91.5% passing accuracy, six chances created for his side and two assists.

Mora had to admit it was tough to play against a player of his quality.

“We cannot deny that Iniesta gives you a different kind of football. I said we are not going to be able to stop him, but we would try to stop him.

“But he was unstoppable. His pass for the first goal was just first class. No tactical or super coach could stop that kind of quality.”

Mora, however, believes the thrashing will only wake his players up.

“We are going to rectify our mistakes in training. I am positive we can improve. I will make sure that we give our best performance in the upcoming games.”

JDT’s next game will be against South Korean club Suwon Samsung Bluewings at the Larkin Stadium in Johor Baru on March 3.

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Johor Darul Ta’zim , JDT , J-League , Vissel Kobe


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