Ismail worried about missing key defenders but puts faith in squad

Ismail Ibrahim stressed that JDT is out to claim a good first leg win against Ceres in the AFC Cup ASEAN zone semi-final on Wednesday

Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) goes into the first leg encounter of the AFC Cup ASEAN zone semi-final knowing full well that they have to take advantage of playing at home before the return fixture in Philippines.

As usual, assistant coach Ismail Ibrahim takes over media duties for the continental cup competition and he echoes the same sentiment regarding the importance of the match against Ceres-Negros FC on Wednesday night.

Severe test for JDT in the AFC Cup ASEAN zone semi-final

"For the match tomorrow it's an important one for JDT because we want to go all the way to the final. We'll give our best and our players have recovered well, [Gonzalo] Cabrera will be back in the squad."

"We'll make some changes in midfield. Afiq [Fazail] as usual will play in defensive midfield with Safiq [Rahim]. But we'll decide later today between [Gabriel] Guerra and Cabrera who will be in the middle," said Ismail during the pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

While blessed with options in midfield and in attack, the case isn't the same for JDT at the back. Fadhli Shas and Aidil Zafuan are still nursing injuries and that means it'll be a baptism of fire for Dominic Tan, in what is undoubtedly the biggest game of his short career thus far.

"Of course there will be some impact [on missing Fadhli and Aidil] but we have players who can come in like Dominic, Amirul as well as Hasbullah," explained Ismail.

JDT need to be wary of Ceres' shooting from distance

In recent weeks, JDT have struggled to maintain their concentration throughout the 90 minutes - goals conceded in the final minutes of the match against Pahang and Melaka United have cost them dear and Ismail is aware that it's an aspect which the team need to improve

"In these two days, we've made preparations to ensure and improve our focus when we're leading. We want to win tomorrow."

"We have 3 games before the break and the players are focus in these matches before we give them a break. It's not easy because the opponent is a good team. We studied their strong and weak points but we are prepared," added Ismail.

Ceres's right side is the weak link in their defence that JDT must exploit

Playing on home soil, JDT should still walk into the match as the slight favourites but it won't be a walk in the park for them against a very strong Ceres side.