JDT 3 SLNA 2: A win but not enough to stay in the AFC Cup

Johor Southern Tigers
Johor Darul Ta'zim made heavy work in their final Group H AFC Cup match against Song Lam Nghe An but the 3-2 win wasn't enough for progression.

JDT picked up their third win in the group stage of the 2018 AFC Cup but ultimately it wasn't enough to earn them another match in this season's competition.

From being champions in 2015, this failure to get out of the group stage is by far the Southern Tigers' worst ever campaign in the second tier Asian cup competition.

Going into the match, JDT knew they had only had second place to fight for and needed a big margin victory to put them in the fight for the best second-placed team and Raul Longhi's team selection reflected that.

Safiq Rahim was reinstalled to the starting line-up while Fadhli Shas and La'Vere Corbin-Ong was also picked in the starting line-up.

They were made to wait until the 36th minute before Safawi Rasid put them 1-0 up with yet another strike from outside the box. Growing in confidence, they nabbed a second when Syafiq Ahmad put in a towering header to convert Corbin-Ong's cross in the 39th minute.

However, lackadaisical defending in the final five minutes of the first half allowed Song Lam to draw level. Nguyen Viet Nguyen struck the first in the 40th minute and in the first half added time, Izham Tarmizi misjudged the flight of the ball to allow Ho Tuan Tai to score the equaliser.

JDT pushed on in the second half and finally found the winning goal through a spot kick. Nguyen Sy Nam handled the ball trying to block a Safawi shot and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Safiq had no trouble beating Tran Van Tien from 12 yards.

With the result, JDT finished third in the group behind Song Lam and group winners Persija Jakarta, who won the other group's match against Tampines Rovers.

The Southern Tigers are still chasing a fifth consecutive Super League title and one that would give them a direct spot in the 2019 AFC Champions League. For a team that started their AFC Cup with a bang, winning it in 2015, their final memory of the competition was one littered with disappointments.