JOHOR BAHRU: Persija Jakarta forward, Rudi Widodo is adamant that tomorrow’s (Wednesday) AFC Cup group H match against Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) at the Tan Sri Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium (Larkin Stadium) will be anything but easy though the Indonesians will be going all out for the win.
Widodo said that even though they have had to put up with a tight schedule having just played a president’s cup match against PSMS Medan, they will be facing JDT and hoping for at least a point to take back with them to Jakarta.
"We are stronger now as we have worked on improving especially in terms of physical and mental strength, and we are determined to take the fight to JDT even though we do realise that they are difficult to beat at home.
"We cannot use the excuse that we are tired because it will derail us and disrupt our focus. In fact we have been preparing for a very tough and tight 90 minute match.
"JDT have some really good players, especially their foreign imports along with a couple of the locals, so they will be putting pressure on us, but we will not crumble or concede so easily as we are prepared to soak up the pressure and frustrate them,” he said.
For Widodo, even though JDT are one of Malaysia’s biggest and most well-known clubs, he stressed that Persija are an even bigger club compared to the Southern Tigers because they have their own qualities and strengths as well as very strong support from their fans who are known as ‘Jakmania’ that are able to spur the team on during the match tomorrow.
He added that all his teammates are eager to mark their first AFC Cup match on a winning note because a positive result from the match will allow for a better path in the Asian club competition.
Widodo also pointed out that Persija have been boosted by the presence of veteran Bambang Pamungkas who is legendary Persija player who is able to push the other players to perform better when things don’t go their way.
"With Bambang in our ranks it just motivates the rest of us to play as best we can because he is an exemplary player that leads by example and all of us at Persija have a lot of respect for him and for what he has done and achieved,” added Widodo.