Defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) needed a Safiq Rahim free-kick to edge I-League’s Bengaluru 1-0 in the AFC Cup. Vijhay Vick makes several observations from the tight affair in India, including the Terengganu flag in the stands …
Grinding out a result like champions should
Johor Darul Ta'zim found it difficult to break down Bengaluru’s back-three and five-man midfield, as Jorge Pereyra Diaz and company were limited to taking long shots for most part of the game.
While JDT certainly did not get outplayed, neither did the 2015 Malaysia Super League (MSL) winners dominate Ashley Westwood’s side.
Bengaluru threatened to find an opening at the other end on several occasions, only to be denied by a solid back-four marshalled by Brazilian Marcos Antonio.
Bengaluru suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat to Lao Toyota in their opening match and understandably, played it very tight in the hopes of avoiding another defeat on Wednesday.
In the end, it needed a 55th-minute trademark Safiq Rahim free-kick but like the skipper said during a post-match interview, it’s doesn’t really matter how you win tough away matches so long as you get the result.
Gomez the Tinkerman?
The starting line-up told how Mario Gomez were wary of Bengalaru’s midfield as the Argentine named Hariss Harun, Amirul Hadi Zainal and Safiq in the middle of the park, sacrificing a left-winger.
Safiq was given a free role behind strikers Diaz and Juan Martin Lucero as left-back Fazly Mazlan was essentially a wing-back, putting in crosses from the flank. When Fazly was back in his own half, either Lucero or Safiq covered the flanks.
Gomez has already tested several formations barely a month since the season kicked-off, leaving opposing coaches confounded over which JDT side will turn up.
Gomez is blessed with a squad rich in depth and can afford to rotate his players like how Claudio Ranieri did at Chelsea in the 2003-04 season.