Johor Darul Ta’zim will look to build on their 8-1 thrashing of Ayeyawady United when they travel to Bangalore to face Bengaluru FC in the AFC Cup on Wednesday.
While the reigning AFC Cup champions will be heading into the match on a high, Bengaluru will be aiming to bounce back from their 2-1 loss to Lao Toyota FC.
All eyes will be on Johor captain Safiq Rahim who scored a hat-trick in his side’s win over Ayeyawady United, while Argentinian forward Juan Martin Lucero is also a big threat as he bagged a brace in the same match.
Johor are unlikely to falter against Bengaluru given that the I-League club could not get past Lao Toyota FC, who failed to win a single match in last year’s tournament. JDT come into the match on the back of a 4-1 win over NS Matrix in the Malaysia FA Cup, and currently sit in second on the Malaysia Super League standings.
Johor coach Mario Gomez is determined to see his side continue their winning run and admitted that anything less than three points will be considered a disappointing result.
“I think it’s very important to win and not draw the match as we are AFC Cup defending champions,” Gomez told the official AFC website.
“Bengaluru are a strong team and it will be a tough game for us, but the morale is good in the team and it’s the same group that won last year’s tournament. This year, we have started well, we are motivated and the team is in good spirits.”
Bengaluru have played 12 competitive games this season and have won seven, lost four and drawn one, and they will have to be at their very best if they want to have a chance of beating the champions.
Bengaluru coach Ashley Westwood acknowledged this, but added that while Johor are a very strong team, they can be beaten.
“We know what to expect from JDT. They have a good side and good players with the likes of the captain of Malaysia and the Brazilian centre-half – but they are not unbeatable,” he said. “We just want to out there and give a good account of ourselves. The objective is to qualify for the knockout stages.”
However, Bengaluru’s chances of winning may take a hit if defender Curtis Osano and forward C.K. Vineeth fail their fitness tests.
Johor currently sit at the summit of the Group H standings with three points, while Bengaluru are in third place with no points.