BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
For the third year running, Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) will face a Thai team in the preliminary round of the Asian Champions League qualifier. After failing to get past Bangkok Glass in 2015 and Muangthong United in 2016, Bangkok United is the latest team to stand in the way of JDT.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, JDT's assistant Ismail Ibrahim points out that his team has been gearing up for this year's qualifier with the right pre-season and is hoping that will be rewarded with the right result.
"We are 100% ready for Tuesday night. We had trainings and many pre season matches in Thailand. So hopefully we will show good performance in the upcoming game tomorrow," said Ismail.
That said, Ismail is still wary of the strength of the opponent and will be looking to the familarity within his team to be to his advantage tomorrow. Even though JDT has lost the services of Martin Lucero and Pereyra Diaz, they have kept almost the entirety of their rock-solid defence and midfield.
"Bangkok is a great opponent but we faced many Thai teams before and collected good experiences from them. Furthermore we still have some players from last season still playing with us this year," added Ismail.
Nicknamed Bangkok Angels, Bangkok United's head coach Mano Polking also expressed his pleasure of his team's preparation for this all-important single-match knockout qualifier.
"We are ready for the match against Johor. We had a long season last year but our players have recovered and trained well. Bangkok will still be able to keep last season best performance. We do have a good team and are well prepared," exhudes Polking.
However Polking is taking nothing for granted and doesn't want his players to rest on their laurels despite the past results favouring teams from Thailand ahead of Malaysian teams. JDT's marked improvement in recent years is something that Polking takes into consideration for the preparation towards this match.
"This game is not easy as Johor is a strong opponent and we will do our best to battle them in the field. No matter the statistics about Thailand and Malaysia are, Johor have a good team and we respect that," explains Polking.
JDT will face Bangkok United at the Thammasat Stadium at Pathum Thani on Tuesday evening with match kicking off at 8pm Malaysian time.