Loss puts Ceres in Hanoi crosshairs
BACOLOD CITY—It’s a defeat that could come back to haunt Ceres-Negros in the AFC Cup.
Having clinched a spot in the semifinals with a game to spare, the Busmen could afford to drop their final Group G match against Becamex Binh Duong last Wednesday night at Panaad Stadium here.
But with Vietnamese champion Hanoi nipping Tampines Rovers of Singapore, 2-1, for top spot in Group F, Ceres needed at least a draw to avoid Hanoi in the Final Four.
But the 0-1 loss to Becamex set the stage for a titanic collision between Ceres and Hanoi in the next round with the Bacolod-based club hosting the first leg on June 18 and the second leg set at the Vietnamese capital a week later.
“I think it will be really tough now,” said Ceres defender Alvaro Silva, who played for Hanoi for two seasons, when asked about their matchup with the Vietnamese champions.
Hanoi boasts a talented crew that powered Vietnam to the AFF Suzuki Cup title last December—a run that included a semifinal win over the Philippines.
For Stephan Schrock, Carli De Murga, Kevin Ingreso and Mike Ott, who were part of the team that lost to Vietnam, it will be an opportunity for payback against the club led by Nguyen Quang Hai, who is considered the best player in Southeast Asia at the moment.
Brazilian striker Wander Luiz pounced on a mistake from sub Joshua Dutosme, before beating Roland Muller with a long-range striker in the 88th minute, sending Becamex into the next round, where it will meet Indonesian side PSM Makassar.
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