AFC CUP 2016
Johor Baru: Juan Lucero’s hat-trick helped defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim cruise into the AFC Cup quarter-finals after a comprehensive 7-2 defeat of tournament debutants Kaya FC of the Philippines on Wednesday.
OJ Porteria did reduce the deficit to three goals eight minutes into the second half but Lucero restored the four-goal cushion in the next attack before Mahali Jasuli made it 6-1 to Johor.
Lucero completed his hat-trick on the 70th minute before Antonio Ugarte scored a second for Kaya in the final minute as the score ended 7-2 with Johor sending out a stark message to their AFC Cup quarter-final opponents.
“Qualifying for the quarter-finals is important, and I am happy and proud to see our team play well, especially in the first half,” said JDT head coach Mario Gomez.
“We showed we can play without Safiq Rahim, who is injured. Amirulhadi came in his place and did well, and he is also becoming an important player in the team.
“It was difficult playing on a wet pitch, but we handled the conditions well apart from one or two mistakes we made. It has been three months of heavy work where we played a match every three days, so we are looking forward to the mid-season break.”
There was still time for another goal, this time from Kaya as Ugarte converted a cross from Porteria inside the box two minutes from time to reduce the deficit but it barely made a dent in Johor’s lead as the Malaysians roared their way into the AFC Cup quarter-finals.
“The first goal we conceded really surprised us because we were not ready when it happened,” said Kaya coach Joel Villarino. “I did not know what happened to our goalkeeper because we were not able to adjust right away to the free kick.
“It was a very good experience against the defending champions. Some of us were new in facing big crowds away, especially when we were up against the quality of the champions. We tried our best, but our best was not good enough in the game of tactics.”