By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
AMID concerns over the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the AFC Cup Group G match between local club Ceres-Negros FC and visiting Bali United FC of Indonesia will be played behind closed doors today at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.
Set for 7:30 p.m., the decision to have the match played sans spectators was arrived at on Tuesday to “conform with the measures being adopted by the national and local governments to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” which as of this writing has been confirmed to have affected 33 individuals in the country.
The decision was made in careful consultation with the Philippine Football Federation and Philippine Sports Commission.
Despite the event now to be played behind closed doors, it can still be viewed live over One Sports PH and FOX Sports 1 channel.
Heading into the game, the “Busmen” are angling to bounce back after what they deemed to be a not-so-ideal showing in their last game on Feb. 25 that had them drawing against Vietnam’s Than Quang Nnh, 2-2.
“As it is, it’s still a good result. But, of course, you don’t want to end up with a draw at home. We didn’t play well today, especially in the first half. We did not create the opportunities that we needed,” said Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic after their last match.
“We have to improve for our next game. We have to be more focused. We have to play our best. All the team knows what they are up against when they play us so we have to play at a high level,” added the Ceres coach, whose team is currently on top of the groupings with four points and 1-1-0 record.
Looking to upset Ceres at home is Bali United (1-0-1), which is currently third in the group with three points.
Bali United is coming off a 2-1 loss at the hands of Cambodian champion Preah Khah Reach Svay Rieng FC in Phnom Penh also on Feb. 25.
Leader on the board after group play in the AFC Cup books a spot in the zonal semifinals.