By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
HELD to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the two-legged AFC Cup ASEAN Zone semifinals last week, Ceres-Negros FC is out to do better and get the job done against Hanoi FC in the return match today in Vietnam.
The “Busmen” said they were satisfied with their performance on June 18 in the first leg at the Panaad Park and Football Stadium but admitted they could have done better than being held to a draw.
Both teams had their chances early in the match but the count would stand at nil-nil by the halftime break.
The tie was broken in the 57th minute when tournament scoring leader Bienvenido Maranon gave Ceres the go-ahead goal, 1-0, heading the ball off a cross from teammate Stephan Schrock.
But Hanoi would not stay down for long, scrambling to get back the point it gave.
The levelling goal came 10 minutes later with midfielder Pape Omar Faye finding the bottom of the net after being set up by Pham Thanh Luong.
The two squads battled it out the rest of the way, looking to get another point to hand them the win but none would come as time expired, leaving the teams settling for the draw.
For Ceres veteran OJ Porteria, a go-getting mindset is very important for them heading into the second leg, especially since they are playing away at the Hang Day Stadium in Hanoi.
He said they must capitalize on every opportunity they have if they are to advance to the next round of the competition.
“We know that we can create chances, so when the time comes we have to make them count. As always we must stay compact and not give them any time to play their game. If we can defend well and put the chances away, I think we can beat them,” Mr. Porteria was quoted as saying by the official AFC Cup Website.
Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic, for his part, admitted the draw in the first leg made all the more difficult their task is. But he nonetheless believes in his team’s abilities to make things happen in the second leg.
“Everything is still open. They (Hanoi) are a strong team and are playing at a high level. We have to match them,” the Ceres coach said.
The winner between the Ceres-Hanoi semifinal pairing will take on the victor of the zonal semifinals between Becamex Binh Duong of Vietnam and PSM Makassar of Indonesia.
The second leg of Ceres versus Hanoi is set for 8 p.m. and will be shown live over ESPB 5PLUS AND ESPN 5 YouTube channel.