Talking Points: JDT’s defeat both a source of joy and sorrow

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Bengaluru reached their first AFC Cup final, knocking out defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) in a 4-2 aggregate semi-final win on Wednesday. Vijhay Vick takes a look at some talking points. 

Malaysia rejoiced

There were mixed emotions after the match in Malaysia but there was a sense of feeling that the knives were out for JDT before the second leg.

Having put Malaysia on the football map, the club are certainly the pride of nation, but there is a growing resentment towards the club, especially with regards to their treatments of the national team.

JDT have courted controversy several times in Malaysia, from illegally approaching players to denying their players time with the national team. It brings little surprise that many are not willing to stand behind JDT in the AFC Cup considering Tunku Ismail is openly voicing his lack of support towards the national team.

Even JDT owner Tunku Ismail Sultan said in a video shortly after the match that Malaysians felt like they were from India and supported Bengaluru instead of backing JDT.

Bengaluru’s turnaround

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JDT threw away the lead both times they played Bengaluru

If there was one thing that you could point as crucial to Bengaluru’s win over Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT), it is none other than their sheer determination.

Blown away by the Southern Tigers in the group stage, the I-League winners have shown no fear against the 2015 winners in the semi-finals. Twice Bengaluru went behind and on both occasions they came back stronger.

Bengaluru dominated proceedings in both legs despite having lesser shots on goal than JDT in the first leg. Their attack, led by two-goal hero Sunil Chhetri, were more prolific this time around.

Bengaluru had five shots on target and three of them found the back of the net while JDT only mustered five attempts – including shots off target.

JDT ran out of ideas

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The 2015 AFC Cup MVP failed to inspire his side to the result they needed

Without suspended Argentine duo Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Juan Martin Lucero, Mario Gomez’s men looked a shadow of themselves and it did not help that options on the bench were limited too.

The Malaysia Super League (MSL) winners were on the backfoot for most parts of the match and seemed to run out of ideas after Bengaluru scored an important second goal. Until then, JDT may have been keeping their fingers crossed that the tie stayed 1-1 on the night until the penalty shootout.

JDT only had two attacking-minded options on the bench as even Malaysia skipper Amri Yahyah was suspended.

In the end, JDT tried to salvage the match by bringing on two defensive-minded players in Gary Steven Robbat and Junior Eldstal, and left-winger Azinee Taib.