Gomez: JDT's AFC Cup semi-final place isn't secure yet

Defending AFC Cup champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) have the advantage of an away goal for their quarter-final return leg against South China on Tuesday, but Mario Gomez has been quick to remind his players the job is not yet done.

Gomez wants the Southern Tigers to avoid errors against Hong Kong’s South China at Larkin Stadium on Tuesday.

JDT only need to ensure they do not concede to progress into the last four, but having seen how Ricardo Rambo side’s troubled its opponents in the 1-1 first-leg, Gomez hinted the club will not play for a scoreless tie.

He pointed at the club’s winning mentality and vowed to repeat their first-half performance in Hong Kong last week. Then, JDT dominated proceedings and took the lead through Jorge Pereyra Diaz, only to see the improved hosts equalise towards the end of the match.

To get a draw in the first leg was good, but we are not in the semi-final yet

- Mario Gomez

“We cannot afford any big mistakes tomorrow. To get a draw in the first leg was good, but we are not in the semi-final yet,” Gomez told the Asian Football Confederation website.

“We won three (back-to-back) league titles there (Larkin), so our mentality is to win. “We must play the same way and adopt the same fortress mentality as we did in the first half in Hong Kong.”

JDT are on a 21-match unbeaten run at Larkin and have only lost twice there in all competitions over the last two years.

South China, however, are the only team not to suffer defeat in Johor Bahru from the Southern Tigers’ past nine continental matches on home soil. The Hong Kong side recorded a 1-1 draw in Larkin at the same stage last year.

“We have to find a way to score. The difference is JDT play at home and have a good advantage," said Rambo.

“We have to focus on getting our mentality right tomorrow, as we are in an exceptional position to do something at this stage.”

The winners of the tie will face either Tampines Rovers of Singapore or India’s Bengaluru in the semi-final.

Tampines host the second leg on Wednesday needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit to reach the final four.

Photo: JDT