KUALA LUMPUR – Defending Super League champions, Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) are facing an uphill battle after losing 0-4 to Indonesia’s Persija Jakarta in the fifth match group H of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta tonight.
The victory saw Persija Jakarta leapt to the top of group H by sharing 10 points with Song Lam Nghe An of Vietnam, who won their home leg match in the group.
On the other hand, JDT went down to third position in group H and needed to beat Song Lam Nghe An with a wide margin in their own turf on April 24, if they want to advance to the next round of the AFC Cup this season.
In the match in Jakarta, import Croatian striker, Marko Simic emerged as the team’s hero after scoring all four goals.
Simic called the shots as early as the seventh minute when he headed a cross from a teammate before he doubled the score five minutes later through a header from a free kick.
The former Melaka striker scored a hat trick in the 19th minute before putting Persija Jakarta to a stunning victory through a penalty kick in the 85th minute.
Earlier, the Johor Southern Tigers were forced to play with 10 players after defender Adam Nor Azlin was flashed with a red card by referee Sivakorn Pu-udom of Thailand, following his second yellow card in the 78th minute.
Earlier, Song Lam Nghe An beat Singapore’s Tampines Rovers 2-1 at the Vinh Stadium in Vietnam.
JDT head coach Raul Longhi expressed his dissatisfaction over the result as it was mainly due to the rotation of the players, following a packed schedule they faced in the Malaysian League and AFC Cup.
Nevertheless, he said the team would now shift their focus on the Super League match against PKNS FC as well as the FA Cup quarter-final second leg match against Pahang. – BERNAMA