ISKANDAR PUTERI: Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) will take to the pitch with much optimism when they face Kawasaki Frontale in their opening AFC Champions League (ACL) Group 1 match, at Sultan Ibrahim Stadium tomorrow.
Head coach, Esteban Solari said his team’s capability will be tested when they meet Kawasaki Frontale for the second straight year in the group stage.
However, he believes that his men would do their level best to secure their first three points.
“We are expecting a different game compared to last year as Kawasaki Frontale is seen much stronger this time with their quality and the players are fast.
“It will be a tough game, but if we manage to score a goal in the first half, we can control them and win,” he said at a pre-match press conference at Sultan Ibrahim Stadium, here today.
Solari said, his players are physically and mentally ready to take on the Japan League champions, adding, Diogo Luis Santo and Fernando Forestieri who were previously injured, will be playing this time.
Playing in front of their home crowd will also give them an advantage, however, he admitted that JDT cannot take Kawasaki Frontale lightly as they have their own strengths.
Meanwhile, Kawasaki Frontale head coach Toru Iniki said, his team has been working on a few strategies and set-pieces in training to make it difficult for JDT.
He added, JDT’s Bergson da Silva and Juan Muniz are both dangerous players which the Kawasaki defence will have to keep at bay.
“We will have eight young new players in action this season, we need to try to improve our squad to challenge the opponent.
“But from our experience with JDT, we must score first to make sure in second game we can control the whole team,” he said.
JDT in a similar group last year, beat Kawasaki Frontale, Ulsan Hyundai FC and Guangzhou FC.
However, the Southern Tigers were thrashed 0-5 by Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan in the last 16. - Bernama