Ceres-Negros begins AFC Cup campaign vs Cambodian side
MANILA, Philippines—Ceres-Negros has found fresh motivation in its AFC Cup 2020 campaign that starts on Tuesday against Svey Rieng of Cambodia at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
After falling short of qualifying in the AFC Champions League, the Busmen are setting their sights on glory in the second-tier continental competition, where they are also looking to prove that they deserve the distinction as Southeast Asia’s top club.
“This is our competition,” declared Serbian coach Risto Vidakovic, whose side won the Asean zone title in 2017.
“We have to defend (that ranking) in this competition. It’s important for us. Our obligation is to fight for what we have right now because this has been the product of our work in the last four to five years.”
The 7:30 p.m. clash is a tricky one for the Busmen, who will be facing a side that beat Laos’ Master Seven in the playoff and impressed in pre-season matches against Malaysian clubs.
Svay Rieng’s Irish coach Conor Nestor is an admirer of Ceres’ style of play, but vowed that his side will be ready for the challenge.
“We don’t have that experience as Ceres in the AFC Cup, but we also don’t have the burden of expectation that they have now,” said Nestor.
Vidakovic’s squad will be strengthened by the return of Manny Ott, whom he has called as one of the best midfielders in Southeast Asia.
“It’s like a gift to have him (Ott) back, but the question is how prepared he will be because of his injury last season,” said Vidakovic.
“But he will be involved from the first moment of the game and we will see how long he will last.”
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