Hodak holds his nerve ahead of clash with ‘JDT of Vietnam’


PETALING JAYA: KL coach Bojan Hodak is surprisingly cool and calm ahead of their crucial AFC Cup tie.

The City Boys, who have hit a slump in the Super League with just one win in their last five games, will face Vietnam’s Viettel in the competition’s Asean zonal semi-final at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City today.

Their fortunes this season are vastly different to last year when they ended their creditable campaign with a shock 2-0 Malaysia Cup final win over favourites Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).

A power struggle, injuries, suspensions and players leaving have taken a toll on the smallest squad in the Malaysian Football League.

And today’s match comes in the wake of a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of JDT last week.

But Hodak is unperturbed after finding solace when his wife and kid from Croatia visited him for six weeks.

And the wily coach is counting on the positives ahead of the clash.

His key players Irfan Zakaria, Ryan Lambert, Anwar Ibrahim and Zhafri Yahya are back from injuries and have been training without any problems.

Another plus factor is that the match will be played in Ho Chi Minh City and not in Hanoi where the club are based which means Viettel will not have many travelling fans.

The former Malaysia Under-19 coach, however, is still expecting a tough encounter, calling their opponents the ‘JDT of Vietnam’.

“Viettel is the richest club in Vietnam and have many national players and quality foreigners. It will be a tough match but with the return of my injured players, I believe we can take the fight to them.”

Hodak has decided to leave it late when naming his line-up.

“We can play four foreigners, three with any passport and one with an Asian passport ... but I have not decided on whom to play,” said Hodak, from Ho Chi Minh City where the team have been based since Saturday.

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