We have nothing to lose, insists JDT skipper
Changwon: Johor Darul Ta’zim captain Hariss Harun believes the Malaysian side will play without pressure when they take on Korea Republic’s Gyeongnam FC in Group E of the 2019 AFC Champions League on Wednesday.
JDT currently sit bottom of the standings – one point behind their opponents at Changwon Football Center and three adrift of second-placed Kashima Antlers – but can go through if they win and holders Kashima lose at home to group winners Shandong Luneng.
While the scenario may be unlikely and qualification is out of JDT’s hands, the tournament debutants travel to Korea Republic with confidence having produced a major upset in defeating the defending champions 1-0 two weeks ago following Syafiq Ahmad's second-half strike.
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“We played very well in our previous game and now there’s still a chance we can qualify, so we are really excited and looking forward to the game,” said Hariss, whose team drew 1-1 with Gyeongnam in the reverse fixture on Matchday Two.
“Gyeongnam have a couple of tall players and caused a few problems for us from set pieces in the last game, but we go there with nothing to lose.
“We know we have a chance and we are going to fight until the end. What happens after, we’ll see, but we will give it our best shot.”
69' - GOAL!! 1-0 Johor Darul Ta'zim!!— FOX Sports LIVE! (@FSAsiaLive) May 8, 2019
JDT have taken the lead against the odds here as Syafiq Ahmad dances past one Kashima defender to get inside the box and then curls his shot into the far post! Johor lead against the Asian champions!!! #ACL2019 #JDTvKAS pic.twitter.com/ZH5EwphkLb
While it took until Matchday Five a fortnight ago for JDT to secure their first three points of the group stage, the Malaysian champions have been far from overawed in their debut campaign.
Their first-ever game in the competition was a narrow 2-1 loss to Kashima then, following the draw with Gyeongnam, there were a pair of close encounters against Shandong, with the Chinese Super League side edging both by a single goal.
The win over Kashima, which also gave them a marginally better head-to-head record against the J.League side, is proof that the 2015 AFC Cup winners have grown into the tournament and offers belief that there may just be a further upset on the cards.
“[The win over Kashima] was a huge boost and gave the team a lot of confidence because we showed we could compete and even get the result we wanted at AFC Champions League level,” added the Singaporean international.
“The result has lifted the belief in the team and everyone associated with the club were really happy and proud.
“It was a historic moment and even more so because it was against the defending champions, but that’s history, now we have to keep the focus on our next objective.”
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