Gomez praises players for reaching last 16

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Johor Darul Ta’zim coach Mario Gomez praised his side and captain Safiq Rahim after their 3-0 win over JSW Bengaluru of India in the AFC Cup on Wednesday.

In the match played in Johor Baru, JDT mainly used fringe players and rested several of their regular first XI, but still managed to record a resounding victory to end up topping Group H on 18 points. Bengaluru, meanwhile, also qualified for the last 16 after finishing second on nine points.

After their good performance on Wednesday night, coach Gomez said he was very proud of how his side performed.

“I’m very proud of my players. Now we must enjoy this result. We take it step by step. Today we enjoy, tomorrow we think about the final. And after that the next match.”

The coach was full of praise for JDT captain Safiq Rahim, who came off the bench in the 59th minute and scored the opening goal 11 minutes later.

So far in the AFC Cup, Safiq has been his side’s star player having scored seven goals in six group games. He has been the driving force behind the Malaysian outfit’s unbeaten run in the tournament.

“It was different when Safiq was put on, I don’t deny that. However, it’s the same for every team not just us. Each team has their talismanic players and Safiq is for JDT,” Gomez added.

“But don’t forget we also did not have [Pereyra] Diaz and [Martin] Lucero today.”

Bengaluru assistant coach Matthew Holland was also full of praise for the JDT skipper, saying he was a fantastic player.

“You’re talking about a local player who has the quality of a foreign player. He’s a fantastic player; you can’t take that away from him.

“He’s very difficult to mark. The fact of the matter is, he changed the game.”