What JDT need to reach AFC Cup zonal semis

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Azrif Nasrulhaq, Johor Darul Ta'zim
Johor Southern Tigers
Only one last round of matches to play and the chances of Johor Darul Ta'zim going into the knockout phase rest on a few combination of results.

It's a mammoth task that awaits JDT in their quest to reach the next stage of the 2018 AFC Cup competition. The odds are heavily stacked against them to qualify out from the group stage for the fourth consecutive seasons in a row.

Two crushing defeats from the five group matches already played puts the 2015 AFC Cup champions in a very disadvantageous position where their destiny is taken out of their own hands. As it stands, JDT are third in Group H and need a combination of results to go in their favour.

With the group rankings decided on points first and then head-to-head results, JDT can only achieve a maximum of 10 points but even then would not be enough for them to overhaul Persija Jakarta to finish as group champions. Persija winning 4-0 at Gelora Bung Karno trumps the 3-0 win JDT got at Larkin.

Group H standings

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Persija Jakarta 5 3 1 1 9 4 +5 10
2 Song Lam Nghe An 5 3 1 1 6 2 +4 10
3 Johor Darul Ta'zim 5 2 1 2 5 7 -2 7
4 Tampines Rovers 5 0 1 4 3 10 -7 1

Which means that the only hope for JDT to reach the zonal semi-finals rest solely on being the best second placed team from the three ASEAN groups. At the moment, Singapore's Home United are sitting pretty on top of that mini-group ahead of Vietnam's Song Lam Nghe An, with a healthy +7 goal difference.

Second-placed teams ASEAN Zone

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Home United 5 3 1 1 13 6 +7 10
2 Song Lam Nghe An 5 3 1 1 6 2 +4 10
3 Bali United 5 1 2 2 7 8 -1 5

In the race for the best second placed team, JDT can ignore Indonesia's Bali United from Group G. With the Tuesday match against Song Lam, the one result that the Southern Tigers need to go in their favour is the one involving Home United, who plays away to Philippines' Ceres-Negros FC.

A 3-0 home win tomorrow takes JDT above Song Lam in Group H but that would not be enough to overtake Home United. Given the goal difference of both JDT and Home United, there need to be at least a ten goals swing in favour of JDT, for there to be any hope of continuing on in the AFC Cup.

For example, should JDT beat Song Lam by 6-0 and Home United lose to Ceres by 4-0, then JDT will have 10 points and a +4 goal difference, which would put them above the Singaporean side. A tall order, considering that thus far, Home United have only lost once and even then by a 3-2 scoreline away to Myanmar's Boeung Ket.

Stranger things have happened in football and while the final whistle hasn't been blown yet, JDT still have a glimmer of hope, albeit a very tiny one.