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Can Hector Bidoglio continue Johor Darul Ta'zim's historic AFC Champions League journey that Benjamin Mora started?

Having qualified for the AFC Champions League knockout round for the first time in 2022, Johor Darul Ta'zim will be looking to continue their history-making ways against Urawa Red Diamonds on Friday. AP Photo/Vincent Thian

On Friday, Johor Darul Ta'zim will look to continue what has already proven to be a historic AFC Champions League run in 2022.

Three months ago, in dramatic fashion, the Malaysia Super League champions claimed a stunning last-gasp 2-1 win over Ulsan Hyundai in their final group stage tie to secure a maiden knockout round appearance in Asia's premier club competition.

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At the expense of the defeated 2020 champions and Japanese giants Kawasaki Frontale no less.

Next up for the Southern Tigers are two-time ACL winners Urawa Red Diamonds and, while they will head into the Round of 16 clash at Saitama Stadium 2002 with no shortage of belief, they will be without a key component of their history-making ways.

In what was a shocking development at the end of last month, JDT announced they had agreed to coach Benjamin Mora's request to leave the club due to personal reasons, after a glorious reign that saw him lead the club to four MSL titles, as well as a Malaysia Cup triumph in 2019.

It was not long before former Venezuela international Hector Bidoglio was named as Mora's successor, and he has thus far enjoyed a fine start at the helm with three straight wins for 13 goals scored and just three conceded.

Nonetheless, JDT are always going to be expected to dominate on the domestic front, especially given they have now won the MSL in the past eight years.

The ACL is a different proposition altogether, and also the one they really want to do well in as they look to rise as genuine powerhouses of Asian football.

The quality JDT boast remains unchanged from Mora's time.

Farizal Marlias remains ever-reliable in goal and has a resilient defence - well marshalled by Shane Lowry -- in front of him.

Natxo Insa provides the bite in the middle of the park while Arif Aiman and La'Vere Corbin-Ong are constant sources of penetration down the wings.

In Bergson da Silva and Fernando Forestieri, JDT have a fearsome front two that can cause problems for any opposition defence.

On paper, JDT have every reason to believe they can defeat Urawa even if the J1 League outfit will still head into Friday's tie as the favourites.

But what best exemplified JDT's Benjamin Mora era was sheer belief and a never-say-die attitude, perhaps even more so than the organisation and intent that were embedded in their play.

Their first win over Ulsan back in the group stage saw them stun the K League 1 giants with an 80th-minute winner by Bergson.

Their final Group I clash -- against the same opposition -- produced an even crazier spectacle, as they were staring elimination in the face but refused to be denied, hammering the ball into the box again and again until they forced Park Yong-woo into scoring an iconic an own goal as there will ever be.

One only has to look back at the delirious scenes of celebration down the touchline between the JDT players and Mora to know how much he meant to them.

It will now be down to Bidoglio to continue an already remarkable journey.

And more so than what he brings to JDT tactically as a coach, it is perhaps how much he inspires his charges as a person that will determine if the Southern Tigers will be marching on in ACL 2022.