Historic Ceres-Negros run ends
BACOLOD CITY—Ceres-Negros’ historic AFC Cup run came to an end Tuesday night at the hands of a big, strong and organized side from Central Asia.
Facing a deficit that even the strongest teams can’t overcome, the Busmen were knocked out of the competition after a 1-1 draw with Istiklol of Tajikistan in the second leg of the inter zone semifinals at Panaad Stadium here.
A 0-4 loss away in Dushanbe three weeks ago meant the Busmen fell 1-5 on aggregate and sent Istiklol to the inter-zone finals where it will face either Bengaluru of India or 4.25 of North Korea.
Super Herrera gave Ceres a glimmer of hope with a header off a corner in the 34th minute. But Dimitri Barkov pulled a goal back for the visitors just before the break, leaving the Busmen with a deficit too difficult to rise from.
Ceres-Negros faces next a compressed domestic schedule that could see the Busmen play an average of two matches a week in the Philippines Football League.
The Busmen’s run to the AFC Cup Asean zone crown has seen them postpone several matches in the PFL.
Having played just 12 of the 28 matches so far with three months remaining in the season, the Busmen have plenty of catching up to do in the domestic league, which is expected to be finished in the third week of December.
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