Johor Darul Ta’zim have been given a boost ahead of the first leg of their AFC Cup quarter-final clash with South China on Tuesday with the return of Singaporean midfielder Hariss Harun.
Hariss stayed on the bench during JDT’s 3-0 win over Terengganu on Friday night, which saw them claim their third consecutive Malaysia Super League (MSL) title.
In order for Hariss to be included in the starting line-up for the game against South China in Hong Kong, it is likely that JDT coach Mario Gomez could bench midfielder Amirulhadi Zainal.
“We have Hariss Harun who is ready for selection and I may start with him,” Gomez told ESPN FC. “Azniee Taib could also return for this game.”
Having already won three titles this season, Gomez is determined to see his side retain their AFC Cup crown and cap off a season to remember.
“We have a chance for a fourth title in this AFC Cup, and we will do everything to win it. It won’t be easy, and we must respect the quality of all the teams,” he said.
Gomez, who coached South China from 2014 to 2015, acknowledged that beating the Hong Kong-based club at home will be no easy feat.
“They are a difficult team,” he said. “They have changed one or two players from my time there, and for this leg, they have the advantage of playing at home.”
JDT, though, can take some confidence from the fact that they defeated South China 4-2 on aggregate when the two clubs met in the quarter-finals of the AFC Cup last year.