KUALA LUMPUR – Super League champion Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) created local football history by becoming the first Malaysian club to qualify for the AFC Cup semifinal since its introduction in 2004.
JDT who managed only a 1-1 draw against South China from Hong Kong in the first leg quarterfinal at the Larkin Stadium on Aug 25, pulled off a massive upset by beating the Hong Kong club 3-1 at the Mongkok Stadium in Hong Kong Tuesday night to advance with a 4-2 aggregate despite playing with just 10-man.
In the match that was telecast live, Mahalli Jasuli gave JDT a flying start in the 26th minute but Mahama Awal levelled the score two minutes later but Safee Sali restored JDT’s lead in the 30th minute.
Six minutes later JDT were reduced to 10-man when Argentina import Luciano Figueroa was given the marching orders by referee Fahad Jaber Al-Marri from Qatar for a foul on Cheung Chi Yung from South China.
However, on the stroke of half time, Safee was once again on target, beating goalkeeper Cristian Mora with a clinical finish.
South China piled on the pressure in the second half but JDT held on to walk out winners.
JDT will now meet either Al-Jaish from Syria or Kuwait’s Qadsia SC in the semifinal scheduled on Sept 29 and Oct 20.