Football: JDT and Hariss' season comes to premature end

Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT)’s players celebrating their win at the new Sultan Ibrahim Stadium on March 3, 2020. PHOTO: JOHOR SOUTHERN TIGERS/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) will end their season prematurely after the Malaysian champions announced on Wednesday (Nov 11) that they will not be participating in the AFC Champions League and Malaysia Cup.

In a statement posted on the club's social media, JDT technical director Alistair Edwards said they were informed by Malaysia's National Security Council that the team would not be given permission to travel to Doha, Qatar for the AFC Champions League that was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic before it became a centralised competition.

Earlier, JDT recovered from a 5-1 loss to Vissel Kobe to beat Suwon Samsung Bluewings 2-1.

They were set to meet them again and play Guangzhou Evergrande twice in the group stage from Nov 19 to Dec 4.

Edwards said: "While JDT are extremely disappointed in not being able to participate in Asia's highest club competition and the Malaysia Cup, we respect the decision by the Malaysian Government and understand that such safety measures need to be enforced due to the rising cases of the Covid-19 pandemic."

The Malaysian government has imposed strict border control since March to contain the outbreak in the country, and also extended an internal conditional movement control order (CMCO) from Monday.

This has also affected the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals that were supposed to be played on Thursday when JDT were scheduled to meet Kuala Lumpur after beating Kuching 1-0 on Nov 6.

It is understood that this year's Malaysia Cup could eventually be canned.

JDT skipper, Singaporean Hariss Harun, said: "We haven't trained this week because of the CMCO, and as footballers, the uncertainty is frustrating because our job is to train and play.

"We are sad to be out of Asia's elite football competition, but we also recognise some things like health and safety are more important, and precaution is necessary.

"In any case, we cannot change the situation, and we can only hope all the precautions will pave the way for a safer environment as we look forward to playing all these tournaments again next season."

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