Safawi offers threat but travel blues continues for JDT

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A look at how JDT struggled to cope with the Song Lam Nghe An tactics as yet another away visit ends in a defeat.

Four wins from four matches played at Tan Sri Dato Hj Hassan Yunos Stadium, it has been a completely different story whenever Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) are on the road this season.

They have thus far travelled on three occasions this season which included trips to Muangthong United, Kuala Lumpur and now Song Lam Nghe An - all of which have yielded negative results for the reigning Super League champions.

The last time they won on the road at a non neutral venue was the final Super League match of the 2017 season. A 2-0 win over Kedah at Darul Aman Stadium, albeit a match that saw both teams putting out makeshift sides.

Played on a very heavy and difficult pitch at Vinh Stadium in their second group match of the 2018 AFC Cup campaign, JDT struggled to get into the usual rhythm of their game despite holding a massive 62% of the ball possession.

Even though the Southern Tigers managed to produce 17 shots, only five of those were on target, a mere 29% accuracy. Compared to the Vietnamese side who had seven shots on target from their 11 attempts, almost tripling the accuracy to their opponents.

Luciano Figueroa, Johor Darul Ta'zim

Song Lam's tactics were clear, disrupt JDT's pattern of short passing and limit them to passing the ball long. Yes, Luciano Figueroa did win 6 out of his 9 aerial duels but unfortunately for JDT, his flick-on did not find a team mates who did not support him close enough.

Shooting chances that were given to JDT were from outside the box, with Safawi Rasid being the biggest threat to the home side. The wide forward had 3 shots on target, 2 successful crosses and 2 successful take-ons. 

The reverse fixture when played at Larkin could well offer a different outcome when JDT have the pleasure of a much better playing surface to perform their work but on this occasion, it showed that when Plan A failed, the Malaysian champions struggled to cope.

That said, the journey in the AFC Cup is still long and JDT could still nab a place in the knockout stage of the competition should they win all their home games as expected. However, the big acid test will be when they travel to a loud Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in early April to face Persija Jakarta.

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