JDT and Ceres clash, a test of mental fortitude

Marcos Antonio, Ismail Ibrahim, Johor Darul Ta'zim, 16/05/2017
Both JDT and Ceres coaches are prepared to rely on their strengths rather than worry to much about the opponent in Wednesday's AFC Cup clash

Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) will head into the 2017 AFC Cup ASEAN zone semi-final second leg against Philippines' Ceres-Negros FC with a 3-2 lead from the first leg but their plan would not be to set out to just protect their one goal lead.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference in Bacolod City on Tuesday, assistant coach Ismail Ibrahim warns that it will be a match of mental strength between the two teams and the victors will be the one who is stronger.

"It's an important game for both teams. For tomorrow's night match all about mental and character on the field. Hopefully JDT team can prepare well and who plays the best will win the game. We have to play our normal game.It's only one goal and we cannot defend all the way," said Ismail.

In the first leg, JDT took control of the ball possession while Ceres relied on the prowess of their quick and decisive counter attacks. JDT took a 1-0 lead at Tan Sri Hassan Yunos Stadium two weeks ago but allowed Ceres to come back with two quick-fire goals. The Southern Tigers needed a second half winner from Hazwan Bakri to take a slim advantage to the away leg.

On the opposite bench, Risto Vidakovic is also employing the same strategy as both teams hold true to their own capabilities. The Ceres head coach wants his players to play their normal game and is hopeful that it will be enough to take them through.

"I'm always saying the same. For us it's a challenge. We don't do anything special, it's the usual for us to prepare. We have our style of the game and we don't change," said Vidakovic.

JDT has only won once on the road in the AFC Cup this season while Ceres has picked up two wins and one draw from their home games in the competition thus far. The records stacks against JDT in that sense and they face an uphill task in Wednesday's encounter.