Talking points: Mistakes dominate South China-JDT encounter

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A closely-contested AFC Cup quarter-final first-leg saw South China and Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) rue a moment of lapse in Hong Kong. Vijhay Vick lists several observations from the 1-1 stalemate… 

A tale of two halves but it didn’t really matter

The Southern Tigers had 58 percent possession at the Mong Kok Stadium but it was really a tale of two halves.

Apart from a short period after Jorge Pereyra Diaz’s opener, JDT dominated proceedings in the first half as South China sat deep in the own half.

The hosts, however, pressed Mario Gomez’s charges high up the pitch in the second half and took charge of the match.

Yet none of that mattered as compact defence at both ends meant neither teams did much with the ball.

For all their possession in the first half, JDT only mustered three shots on goal in each half while South China managed only five over 90 minutes.

With another 90 minutes scheduled on September 20, both teams appeared hesitant to throw everything forward in search of goals.

The second leg could see more end-to-end action as South China must find the back of the net and their quest could leave gaps for Diaz, Juan Martin Lucero and Safiq Rahim to exploit.

So tight, mistakes decided the outcome

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Mistakes led to the goals in the game. Photo: JDT

With a cautious approach written all over the match, the simplest of margins – two errors in judgement – decided the outcome of this tie.

Both goals came as a result of pressing the opponents high up the pitch but goal scorers Diaz and Nicola Komazec found themselves on the right side of luck.

South China Leung Hing Kit is probably still wondering how a supposedly routine catch of Diaz’s low shot rolled inches away from him in the 22nd minute.

At the same end in the second-half’s stoppage time, a weak clearance by the usually-reliable Marcos Antonio allowed Komazec to find the back of the net.

The Serbian, however, was still made to work as he squeezed the ball into the back of the net despite being guarded by two players but the towering Brazilian centre-back may feel he should have done better.

JDT collected cards but hosts escape red

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South China were lucky to escape with a dismissal. Photo: JDT

Iraqi referee Ali Sabah Al-Qaysi and his assistants had a busy night. Even fourth official Zamer Thameer was needed to prevent South China coach Jose Ricardo Rambo and JDT goalkeeper coach Khairul Azman Mohamed from having a go at each other.

On the pitch, Ali Sabah had 37 fouls to deals with as tackles flew from both teams.

The Southern Tigers were at the receiving end with five yellow cards compared to South China’s one, but the hosts can count themselves lucky not to go a man down when skipper Chan Wai Ho swung his hand towards Diaz when the pair were involved in a heated argument late in the match.

The tussle went unnoticed as players from both sides got involved, but Leong Kwun Chung was cautioned for another incident.

Awal gave JDT problems

JDT managed to hold off just about everything South China threw forward in the second half but one man JDT will pay extra attention to in the return leg is Cameroonian Mahama Awal.

The 25-year-old winger was a constant menace to JDT left-back Fazly Mazlan, and had the latter not been forced off in the 77th minute, the visitor may well have collected their sixth yellow card of the night.

Mahama caught the usually fast Fazly off position on several occasions, forcing numerous fouls in the second half until a collision between the two ended the Malaysian international’s night.

JDT are expected to field Azrif Nasrulhaq at left back in the return leg if Fazly does not recover in time.

Main Photo: South China