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Preview - Group G: Johor Darul Ta'zim relishing AFC Champions League test against Nagoya Grampus 

Bangkok: Johor Darul Ta’zim of Malaysia and Japan’s Nagoya Grampus will face off in their 2021 AFC Champions League Group G opener on Tuesday. 

Darul Ta’zim and Nagoya Grampus will clash for the first time in the AFC Champions League with both sides aiming to kickstart their respective campaigns with a win at the Rajamangala Stadium.

Johor Darul Ta’zim will appear in the AFC Champions League group stage for the second time, having withdrawn from the 2020 edition after two matches due to the COVID-19 pandemic while Nagoya will be bidding for the title for a fourth time.

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Head coach Benjamin Mora has left out Brazilian forward Gonzalo Cabrera from the squad, opting to include Australian centre-back Shane Lowry in a bid to shore up the Johor Darul Ta’zim defence.

“I see a very strong team here and we are excited to participate in this edition of the AFC Champions League,” said Mora. “We know the importance of participating in this competition and will give 100 percent in every way so that we will have the chance to compete at the highest level.

“Although Nagoya finished third in their domestic league, they remain a huge threat as they are very well organised and play with plenty of intensity. They have good quality up front with the wingers as well as in midfield."

“We can’t make mistakes at this stage of the competition, we must stay composed like they (Nagoya) and we are going to compete. It’s not going to be easy but this is the highlight in the competition for us. We are a small club with big dreams and we want to dignify our club and our tactics at this stage of the competition.

“It’s a big challenge for us when you have 14 national team players in the squad. But we have been winning and performing well together for a long time and the players know what is expected of them.”

Nagoya last appeared in the continental competition in 2012 where they were knocked out by Australia's Adelaide United in the Round of 16.

The Japanese side’s finest hour came in 2009 when they reached the semi-finals against Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal SFC, bowing out 8-3 on aggregate.

Head coach Massimo Ficcadenti will be aiming to maintain Nagoya’s perfect record of having advanced to the knockout rounds in each of their previous three appearances.

“We are targeting the three points against JDT, it’s not going to be easy but we must overcome our shortcomings and try our best to win tomorrow,” said Ficcadenti.

“The team is fortunate to be here competing against the best teams in the region. We respect all the other teams in the group but we must do our best to achieve the results.

“We come into the competition with experience, but of course this is a different team from that of the previous editions and we will prepare ourselves for each game as we move forward.”

Darul Ta’zim (MAS) v Nagoya Grampus (JPN)
Venue: Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok
Kick-off: June 22, 21:00 (UTC+7.00)

*Poll ends on June 22, 18:00 hours (UTC+8)

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