Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) will go into their fourth Group H AFC Cup match without the service of star striker, Luciano Figueroa. Having missed the away fixture last week as well as the weekend's Super League encounter against Terengganu FC, the 36-year-old Argentine has yet to fully recover from his injury.
His absence is likely to give either Hazwan Bakri or Darren Lok another run at the central striker position, after Raul Longhi confirmed in the pre-match press conference in Johor Bahru on Tuesday evening.
"Luciano will not be playing due to his injury. I need to evaluate Marcos' condition first before deciding to include him or not. I am very satisfied with the local players because we played in Singapore recently, they gave a good performance to try winning the match. For me, all players at this club are important," said Longhi.
A 0-0 draw at Jalan Besar Stadium a week ago is not the ideal result for JDT, considering their place in the group where they are currently trailing Vietnam's Song Lam Nghe An by three point, heading into the final three fixtures in the group.
However, the Southern Tigers are a different beast when playing in front of their home fans at Tan Sri Dato Hj Hassan Yunos Stadium, where they have not lose in any of the AFC Cup matches played there since their participation back in 2015.
"Our preparations this time have been going well. The most important thing is the players show a great attitude and give their full commitment. We respect all teams, and we know Tampines Rovers are among the strong teams in Singapore. However, we still want to win and pick up three points from the match," added Longhi.
A win for JDT would set up a potentially winners-take-all final group match against SLNA at Larkin, as only the group winners are guaranteed a place in the knock-out stage of the competition.