Johor Darul Ta’zim’s devoted ultra fans will single out South China captain Chan Wai-ho for verbal abuse during the second leg of their AFC Cup quarter-final on Tuesday, vowing to “send him to hell” after a bitter first leg last week and in the wake of a scathing attack on the Malaysian side by a top Hong Kong official.
The ultras, who number several thousand and are known for their constant singing and drumming during home matches, are angry at Chan after he was involved in a scuffle with Johor (JDT) players at Mong Kok Stadium during their 1-1 first leg draw.
On their social media pages, they have created several posters with the message on one “No Escape … Send 15 to Hell”, referring to Chan’s squad number and with a picture of a pair of hands gripping the bars of a jail cell.
After the first leg last week, Hong Kong Football Association chief executive Mark Sutcliffe blasted the defending AFC Cup champions for their bizarre second half performance when they opted to sit back against the local side after a dominant first half, allowing South China to grab a late equaliser.
Misi besar kita selasa ini:
Bawa johor ke semi final afc!
Bawa pemain no 15 ke neraka keluar afc!
— Boys Of Straits (@BoysOfStraits) September 15, 2016
“JDT seemed to settle for a 1-0 victory and inexplicably started some frustratingly negative tactics” Sucliffe wrote on his blog.
“Serious time-wasting, feigning injury, falling over for no reason etc became the norm. In my book this behaviour is at best unsportsmanlike and at worst cheating.
Watch: South China 1 Johor Darul Ta’zim 1
“It ruined the game and for JDT was totally counterproductive. I have no doubt that if they had continued to play football and focused on positive play instead of adopting petulant, pathetic histrionics they would have gone on to win.”
It all makes for a daunting task for South China, who were knocked out by the Southern Tigers in last year’s quater-final stage.
South China can expect a packed house of more than 15,000 with the ultras ensuring an intimidating atmosphere for the visitors and Chan, in particular.
Although Johor will start as overwhelming favourites, coach Mario Gomez – who formerly coached South China before signing for the Malaysian champions – knows his side cannot afford another lapse.
“To get a draw in the first leg is good, but we are not in the semi-finals yet,” said Gomez, whose side are unbeaten this year at their Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium in Larkin, Johor Bahru.
“For us, we cannot afford any big mistake tomorrow.
“We won three back-to-back league titles there, so our mentality is to win. We must play the same way and adopt the same fortress mentality as we did in the first half in Hong Kong.”
South China coach Ricardo Rambo wants to use their victory over the Philippines’ Ceres La Salle in the round of 16, and their group win against India’s Mohun Bagan as inspiration when they take on Johor.
“The experiences we gained playing away to get results in India and the Philippines helped us a lot,” said the Brazilian.
“To draw 0-0 is not good enough, we have to find a way to score. The difference is JDT play at home and have a good advantage.
“We have to focus in getting our mentality right, as we are in an exceptional position to do something at this stage.”
The winners of this quarter-final clash will face either Tampines Rovers of Singapore or Indian champions Bengaluru in the semi-finals.
Watch (and listen): What South China can expect