Gomez admits ‘massive’ AFC Cup selection headache

Johor Darul Ta’zim coach Mario Gomez was handed a serious selection headache after three players were ruled out of the AFC Cup semi-final second-leg match following their bookings on Wednesday.

Martin Lucero, Pererya Diaz and Amri Yahyah all received yellow cards during the second half of Johor’s 1-1 draw with JSW Bengaluru at Larkin Stadium, resulting in one-match suspensions.

“It is a massive headache but we have 20 days to think of who we are going to play up front alongside Safee Sali,” said the Argentine.

“I was afraid Safiq Rahim would get a yellow so I took him out (before the final whistle). We need to change something (before the second leg), but I don’t know what it is.”

While Johor took the lead early in the second half, they were powerless to prevent their opponents from equalising just minutes later.

Bengaluru’s aggressive game plan appeared to frustrate the home side at times, and Gomez will have to find a better way to cope with it in the second leg.

“In the first half we lost some options, and our defence did not play well,” he said. “I am not sure whether he is going to (make Bengaluru) play the same way as they did tonight.

“While they pressed, they did not score more. It is no walk in the park for the knockout round, but we can still do something in India so long we score a goal there.”

Bengaluru coach Albert Roca, meanwhile, was left quietly confident after grabbing a valuable away goal in the draw.

“We still have a huge match ahead and will try to keep the simple things well. My players’ willingness to learn, adjust and fight has given me confidence for us to reach the final, although the second leg will still not be easy.”