Johor Darul Ta'zim: Coach Gomez concerned over key strikers' suspension for 2016 AFC Cup semi-final second leg

Johor strikers Juan Martin Lucero and Pereyra Diaz will miss the 2016 AFC Cup semi-final second leg.

Jaun Martin Lucero
File Photo (R) of Johor Darul Ta'zim striker Juan Lucero Reuters

Mario Gomez said Johor Darul Ta'zim have "a massive headache" going into the 2016 AFC Cup semi-final second leg against Bengaluru FC without their key strikers.

The Malaysian giants saw their in-form strikers Juan Martin Lucero and Pereyra Diaz getting booked in the second half of the semi-final first leg, which ended in a 1-1 draw on 28 September. The two Argentines along with Amri Yahyah have been ruled out of the second leg, which will be played at the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on 19 October.

Bengaluru FC also ended the defending champions' perfect winning record at the Lankrik Stadium in the ongoing competition after they sealed a crucial away goal on Wednesday.

After a goalless first half, Johor striker Pereyra opened the scoring in the 53rd minute with a header. However, the hosts equalised in the next four minutes with a strike from Eugeneson Lyngdoh.

Having got a taste of Bengaluru's determined and high-pressing game, Gomez said he would have a tough time deciding the possible combination up front in before they travel to India. Notably, Pereyra and Lucero are among the top-ten scorers of the competition after having scored six goals, each.

"It [losing key strikers] is a massive headache but we have 20 days to think of who we are going to play up front alongside Safee Sali," Gomez was quoted as saying by the AFC Cup's official website.

"I was afraid Safiq Rahim would get a yellow so I took him out [before the final whistle]. We need to change something [before the second leg], but I don't know what it is.

"While they pressed, they did not score more. It is no walk in the park for the knockout round, but we can still do something in India so long we score a goal there."

Meanwhile, Bengaluru coach Albert Roca, who has kicked off his managerial campaign with the Blues on a high with a three-match unbeaten run in the tournament, said he was proud of his players' performances and their ability to adapt to his style quickly.

Roca insists his men have it in them to see off a stiff challenge from Johor in the second leg and make it to their maiden finals of the AFC Cup. However, he concedes that the defending champions will make it harder for them in Bengaluru.

"My intention is not to give the first leg to them. I know we are playing at the home of the champions and they have good strikers," Roca said.

"I am proud of my players because it is not easy for them to adjust to new tactics from last week.

"We still have a huge match ahead and will try to keep the simple things well. My players' willingness to learn, adjust and fight has given me confidence for us to reach the final, although the second leg will still not be easy."