Ismail: AFC Champions League is the target for JDT

Johor Darul Ta’zim’s manager Ismail Ibrahim believes that there is nothing stopping the club from qualifying for the 2017 AFC Champions League.

Having won the AFC Cup in 2015 and reaching the semi-finals this year, the Malaysian side have the opportunity to feature in Asia’s elite competition, but they will first have to qualify.

The first qualifying game will be against Thailand’s Bangkok United in preliminary Round two on January 31. If they emerge victorious, JDT are likely to face Japanese side Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Should they fail to win, JDT will once again find themselves in the AFC Cup, where they have been drawn in the same group as Magwe FC, Global FC and either Boeungket Angkor or Lao Toyota.

“The target is to try and make the AFC Champions League, and with good foreigners we can do well,” Ismail said. “But if we do end up in the AFC Cup, the target is to make the final. The league is equally important to us, so we need to see how FAM arranges the fixtures. We want to compete equally on both fronts.”

Meanwhile, Ismail also admitted that he and the rest of the club are very excited by the signing of Selangor striker Ahmad Hazwan Bakri.

Despite being a forward, Ismail admitted that it is unclear what position Hazwan will play in JDT’s squad.

“Hazwan is a vital addition for us, but I’m not sure where he will play. That depends on the coach,” he said.