Johor Darul Ta’zim created football history after they became the first Malaysian and even East Asian side to win the AFC Cup title on Saturday.
Goal from Argentinian striker Leandro Velazquez in the 23rd minute of the final game against Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol at the Republican Central Stadium in Dushanbe was enough for JDT to taste the triumph.
The victory also saw Johor Southern Tigers to become the first Malaysian team to appear in a continental club final in 48 years, since Selangor lost in the inaugural Asian Club Championship final in 1967.
“Our goalkeeper and our defenders played well when Istikol created pressure,” said JDT coach Mario Gomez. “I think the players followed their instructions well and I’m proud that we have this victory.
“I am happy with my players tonight. We created history for Malaysian football in the AFC Cup. We worked a lot and claimed the trophy.
“It was a good match and a great atmosphere in the stadium. Istiklol showed their attacking football. They had some chances in the first minutes, but we changed the game after it.”
To add the tally list, JDT captain Safiq Rahim was named as the Most Valuable Player following his impressive all-round performance during the game.
“I am happy with our victory,” said the 28-year-old midfielder. “We made great work together with teammates and coaching staff.
“It’s great for me that I’ve been chosen MVP for the tournament. But the most important thing is the team and the trophy.”