Preview: Ayeyawady v Johor Darul Ta’zim

Malaysian side Johor Darul Ta’zim FC are up against Ayeyawady United of Myanmar in the AFC Cup on Wednesday.

With two games remaining in the Group stage, JDT have dominated so far,  winning all four of their games to sit at the top of the Group H standings with 12 points. They are followed by Indian side JSW Bengaluru FC with six points, while Ayeyawady are third on three points, but only ahead of Lao Toyota FC of Laos on goal difference.

The defending champions started their AFC Cup campaign with an 8-1 win at home against Ayeyawady, then downed Bengaluru 1-0 in India. In their third match, JDT won 3-0 at home against Lao Toyota before winning the return leg 4-1 in Laos.

The players to look for in the Malaysian side are midfielder and captain Safiq Bin Rahim, who has scored six goals, and forward Juan Lucero who has two goals.

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In Malaysia Super League action, JDT are second on the table with 21 points, behind FELDA United on goal difference. In their last outing on Saturday they drew 1-1 with Kedah FA.

With JDT already having secured their place in the last 16, coach Mario Gomez revealed that he will allow some of the team’s younger players to get some much-needed experience.

“We have a big team, we have options, so tomorrow we will give a chance to some of our young players,” he told the official AFC website. “We talk about the present, but the future is important. Our players all share a mentality, they all know how important winning is and show this every game.”

Ayeyawady started their journey with an 8-1 loss to JDT before bouncing back with a 4-2 win at home against Lao Toyota. They were unable to build on their momentum as they lost 1-0 to Bengaluru before losing the return leg 5-3 in Bangalore.

The player to watch for Ayeyawady is Nigerian forward Chizoba Christopher, who has scored five goals so far.

In the 2016 Myanmar National League standings, Ayeyawady are third on 20 points after 11 games and are nine points behind table-toppers Yadanarbon FC. In their last match on April 2, Ayeyawady defeated Zwekapin United 1-0.

Ayeyawady are in desperate need of a win against JDT and coach U Kyaw Linh has made it clear that his side will try and snap the reigning champion’s unbeaten streak.

“It’s our home match so we’ll try and get a good result and a win,” he said. “We’ll stick to our style of play and our game plan. We have young players in defence and they lose their concentration – in the league they can get away with it but you will be punished in the AFC Cup.”

Ayeyawady and JDT will face each other at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon at 17:20 HKT on FOX Sports.

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