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JDT One Step Away From Maiden AFC Cup Title

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KUALA LUMPUR – Club side Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) are determined to redeem themselves by lifting the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup for the first time in their second attempt.

The club, previously known as Johor FC, could only make it to the group stage in 2009.

Football Association of Johor (PBNJ) president Datuk Ismail Karim is confident the Southern Tigers under coach Mario Gomez will put up a credible performance against FC Istiklol of Uzbekistan in the final on Oct 31.

However, AFC has yet to decide on the venue for the match.

“JDT have not only brought honours to Johor but also Malaysia (after qualifying automatically for the AFC Cup final),” Ismail said when contacted by Bernama today.

“I am confident with the support of local fans and with the preparations made, JDT can defeat Istiklol FC in the final,” Karim said.

JDT became the first Malaysian football club to qualify for the AFC Cup final with FC Istiklol of Uzbekistan in the tournament introduced in 2004.

Both teams qualified for the final automatically after FIFA decided to suspend the Kuwait Football Association with immediate effect yesterday.

This followed the decision of Kuwait government to implement new sports legislation which threatened the autonomy of KFA as an independent body without the interference of the government.

KFA had been suspended twice by FIFA in 2007 and 2008 following interference by the country’s government.

In the first leg semi-finals on Sept 29, JDT lost to defending champions Qadsia SC of Kuwait at the Kuwait Club Stadium while FC Istiklol were beaten 0-4 by Kuwait League leaders Kuwait SC the following day at the same venue.

Based on the original schedule, JDT were supposed to meet Qadsia SC in the return match at Tan Sri Hassan Yunos Stadium in Johor Baharu on Oct 20 while FC Istiklol were to face Kuwait FC on homeground the next day. – BERNAMA

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