Ceres battles Malaysian club
The first time Ceres-Negros attempted to qualify for the AFC Cup in 2015, it was Malaysia’s Johor Dairul Ta’zim that ruled the continental competition.
But with the Philippines Football League side continuing its rise and the Malaysian Super League stalwart still contending with its formidable squad, the two clubs finally cross paths in the Asean zonal semifinals with the first leg set on Wednesday at Larkin Stadium in Johor.
Ceres midfielder Manny Ott is relishing the challenge of facing the Malaysians, who dealt another PFL club, Global, a 4-0 walloping in Johor, before bowing to the same side, 2-3, in Manila, in the group stage.
“We came here to play a good game and we know we have a tough opponent,” said the Filipino international, whose matchup with JDT midfield wizard Safiq Rahim is among the interesting subplots in the duel. “JDT is a big club but this is a match that we’re looking for. We want to measure ourselves against them.”
Ceres topped the tournament’s Group of Death, highlighted by wins over Hanoi and Tampines Rovers, to claim a semifinal spot, while JDT reached the semifinals as the best second-placed team.
Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic is confident his full-strength side can pull off a big result against the Malaysian giants.
“I’m sure that my players will give everything to reach a good result,” said the Serbian.
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