Participating in an additional competition is not often helpful to teams in their own domestic leagues but for Johor Darul Ta'zim, the perception is that competing in the ACL only serves to give them the extra boost when returning to the Malaysia Super League.
Thus far JDT have played five matches in the elite Asia club competition and on each of those occasions, they have not suffered a defeat on their immediate return to play in the MSL. Like an engine that needs to be kept running to maintain its highest effeciency, the JDT machine is thriving on the added challenge of extra matches on the continental front.
For captaian Hariss Harun, the competitiveness achieved in the ACL is what is propelling his team to greater heights within Malaysia. Not only is the desire strong to return to the ACL again in 2020, he believes that playing in the ACL will also improve every one of his team mates.
"For us when we play back at home, every team wants to beat us and gives 200% when they play us. That keeps us on our toes. When we come to the ACL level, we know that we are playing teams of great calibre, experienced teams and even have some players who came from Europe like Shandong have.
"We know we have to raise our games and if you see from our league matches after the ACL, we look sharper so the competition also helps us domestically," said Hariss in the pre-match press conference on late Tuesday evening.
Hariss and JDT will travel back from South Korea to face Kedah at Tan Sri Dato Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium on May 26 before the club fixtures take a break due to the international round of matches and they will be fairly confident of picking up yet another three points despite the extra traveling done compared to Kedah.
JDT need to pick up maximum points against Gyeongnam at the Changwon Football Center on Wednesday to keep alive their hopes of reaching the Round of 16 of the ACL. On top of that, they will also need Shandong to do them a favour in the other match by beating Kashima for JDT to qualify as the second best team in Group E.
March 5: Kashima Antlers 2 JDT 1
March 9: JDT 3 PKNP 0
March 12: JDT 1 Gyeongnam 1
March 29: Kedah 1 JDT 1
April 9: Shandong Luneng 2 JDT 1
April 13: PJ City 0 JDT 1
April 24: JDT 0 Shandong 1
April 28: Pahang 1 JDT 1
May 8: JDT 1 Kashima 0
May 14: JDT 2 Pahang 0
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