Lions captain Hariss Harun yesterday revealed his disappointment after Johor Darul Takzim’s season ended prematurely following the Malaysian champions’ announcement they will not be participating in the AFC Champions League and Malaysia Cup.
In a statement posted on the club’s social media channels on Wednesday, 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. It was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic before becoming a centralised competition.
Earlier, they recovered from a 5-1 loss to Vissel Kobe to beat Suwon Samsung Bluewings 2-1 to lie second in Group G.
They were set to meet those teams again and play Guangzhou Evergrande twice from Nov 19 to Dec 4 in a bid to get out of the group stage for the first time.
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 controls since March to contain the outbreak in the country, and also extended an internal conditional movement control order (CMCO) on Monday.
This has affected the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals that were supposed to be played yesterday, with JDT scheduled to meet Kuala Lumpur after beating Kuching 1-0 last Friday.
It is understood that this year’s Malaysia Cup could eventually be canned.
JDT skipper Hariss 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.”