Nationals deliver for Ceres-Negros
Ceres-Negros’ fine form augurs well not only for the Busmen’s bid to retain the Asean zone championship in the AFC Cup, but also for the national team, which is facing a tough final match in Asian Cup qualifying against Tajikistan late this month.
The Busmen are currently on top of Group F of the AFC Cup following the 2-0 win over Shan United on Tuesday night at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod.
But Azkals coach Thomas Dooley will welcome the news that some of his reliable players like siblings Manny and Mike Ott and Carlie De Murga stepped up to deliver solid games for the Busmen.
Manny finally played the full 90 minutes for the Busmen for the first time since suffering a knee injury in October, while younger brother, Mike, created the two goals for Bienve Marañon and Patrick Reichelt, who is also expected to be called up for the match against Tajikistan.
De Murga was a rock on defense even as his distribution out of the back proved key in keeping the Ceres attack going.
Based on statistics released by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), De Murga completed 80 out of 84 passes, underlining his quality on the ball.
Reichelt, who has struggled with injuries, came off the bench to make an impact with the opening goal set up by Mike Ott’s cross from the left.
Ott also danced past three defenders before picking out Maranon for the second goal.
The Busmen resume their AFC Cup bid on Wednesday against Shan United in Yangon.
The Azkals face Tajikistan on March 27 at Rizal Memorial Stadium, needing at least a draw to qualify for the Asian Cup next year in the United Arab Emirates.
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