Melaka United 'need luck' to beat JDT in Malaysia Cup - Khair Jones
Defender Khair Jones believes Melaka United will need to take their chances and get some "luck" to get the better of visiting Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) in their Malaysia Cup first-leg quarterfinal on Friday night.
Despite an inconsistent group run, Melaka did well to make it out of Group C as runners up to set up this clash with the Southern Tigers, who are heavy favourites.
So the lanky defender thinks is bracing himself for a tough night at Hang Jebat Stadium, which will also host next month's AFC World Cup playoff between Syria and Australia.
"They are clear favourites for this clash... there is no doubt about that," Jones told ESPN FC.
"We have been preparing well for this game, though, and there is belief we could get a result if we put our hearts into it. It will be a tough game, but with discipline and some luck we can do it."
That May clash saw former Melaka coach Eric Williams lash out at his JDT counterpart Benjamin Mora for "lack of humility".
Melaka have since replaced English-born Australian Williams with Portugal's Eduardo Almeida, while JDT demoted Mexico's Mora to JDT II to make way for another Portuguese boss in Ulisses Morais.
The Seremban-born, New Zealand-raised Jones says there have been noticeable changes since Almeida came on board in June.
"I feel the team is now more refreshed with his arrival. We are seeing improvements in results and the team is eager to finish the season on the highest note possible," Jones said.
Up front, Melaka will rely on their Croatian forward Marko Simic, who has seven goals in six appearances.
Besides Simic, Almeida can also count on South Korea's Jeon Woo-Young and fellow midfielder Felipe De Souza, of Brazil, to find the net.
The pair has already contributed five goals from the centre of park, and they will also be tasked to keep a tight lid on the creative tentacles of JDT duo Safiq Rahim and Natxo Insa.
Melaka will also have to deal with the front-three threat of Mohammed Ghaddar, Gabriel Guerra and Gonzalo Cabrera.
The second leg of this quarterfinal will be played on Sept. 24 at Larkin Stadium.
Other first-leg clashes on Friday night will see Selangor take on Kedah while Felda United face PKNP FC.
Reigning Malaysia Cup champions Kedah also lifted May's Malaysia FA Cup after defeating Pahang in the final at Shah Alam Stadium.
JDT, winners of the last four MSL titles, are looking to win the Malaysia Cup for the first time since the club was rebranded in 2012.
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.