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AFC Champions League

Mora has high praise for his JDT side in draw with Gyeongnam

04:12 GMT+3 13/03/2019
Gonazalo Cabrera, Johor Darul Ta'zim v Gyeongnam, AFC Champions League, 12 Mar 2019
The JDT head coach couldn't be more proud of the display his charges put out in helping The Southern Tigers gain their first point in the ACL.

The record book will show that Johor Darul Ta'zim only took two matches to find their first ever point in the AFC Champions League. After narrowly losing out to Kashima Antlers in the Group E opening match a week ago, JDT have managed to earn one point following a 1-1 draw against Gyeongnam FC.

In truth the South Korean side only troubled JDT from set piece situations and even then, it was just the two corner kicks on either side of half time. But the runners-up of the 2018 K-League were clinical as they still managed to score with the limited chances when Kwak Tae-hwi put them ahead in the 52nd minute.

Having controlled large parts of the match and created several good goal-scoring chances before then, JDT held their nerves and continued to pepper Lee Bum-soo's goal with shots after shots. The equaliser came soon enough when Diogo Luis Santo converted a 68th minute penalty and Benjamin Mora was extremely proud of what his team produced on the night.

"It's our first home game against a team who played very well, combined very well and were very strong in the high balls. But we're very proud for dignifying the state, JDT as a club and bringing the players to play this kind of game. For me, it was really incredible how they fought, how they stand on the pitch knowing they could do a lot and never lower the face despite going behind."

"We knew that we had a chance. But football is like this. We hit the bar two times and the post two times. We were there. We never settled with one point. We took risk behind because we knew the counter attack was going to be very tough if they win the ball.

"We had a lot of young boys on the pitch. We had Nazmi Faiz, Afiq Fazail, Safawi Rasid. We had Adam (Nor Azlin) who did a great job. Young boys who showed commitment and personalities. Then of course you have leaders like Diogo who give players confidence," said Mora in the post-match press conference.

To a man, every single JDT player had an at least 7/10 performance which left the supposedly more fancied Gyeongnam side shell-shocked. That Bum-soo had to deal with seven shots on target from 21 produced by the home side speaks of the wider sense of control and authority which JDT had on the match.

Even Izham Tarmizi who came in for the injured Farizal Marlias at the eleventh hour, did not look out of place. Farizal had already been named in the starting line-up but suffered an injury during the warm-up to force Izham into action. While not forced into too much trouble, Izham still distributed the ball well and positioned himself well throughout.

With the way they performed on the night, JDT could well be looking at the next two home matches as possible avenues to gain more points, if not for the qualification to the knockout stage of the competition, then to at least give them the right confidence and believe that they do belong among the elite level of Asian football.

 

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