Longhi closes curtains on a problematic AFC Cup campaign

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Raul Longhi made no secret that it has been a problematic AFC Cup campaign for Johor Darul Ta'zim as turmoil in the squad did not make a good recipe.

JDT closed their AFC Cup campaign for the season, a little earlier than what the team and the fans are accustomed to.

A 3-2 win over Song Lam Nghe An wasn't enough for the former champions to secure top spot in the group nor finish as the best second-placed team in the ASEAN region.

Goals from Safawi Rasid and Syafiq Ahmad had put JDT in a commanding position, five minutes before half time but went into the dressing room with the match on a completely different perspective.

The Vietnamese side grabbed two quick-fire goals from two corner kicks to send JDT into the half time break with a big blow to their confidence. Raul Longhi also pinpointed that the last five minutes of the first half is not a period that will be looked back kindly on.

"We had so many problems in the squad the last two months. But we tried to win this game because it's the last game. The focus now is in the Super League and Kelantan, that's our objective."

"Our football in the first 40 minutes was good. I like that football. But after that not so much. We gave corners after corners away. We can't be making those mistakes and need to improve on that," said Longhi in the post-match press conference.

The problems highlighted by Longhi was possibly referring to the departure of Jorge Pereyra Diaz and the inavailability of Luciano Figueora. Two key figures in the team, which saw JDT battled on for a large chunk of the group matches, short on two import players.

Since they rebranded into a club, JDT started to feature for the first time in the AFC Cup in 2015. A wonderful debut in Asia's second tier cup competition saw them winning it at first go to be the first ASEAN club to do so.

Only a defeat to Bengaluru FC in the semi-final stage the following year, denied JDT the chance to retain their trophy. The early exit this season, marks JDT's worst ever performance in the AFC Cup .

 

 

 

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