Ceres in ‘do-or-die’ vs Istiklol tonight

Henry G. Doble

CERES Negros Football Club (FC) will face its toughest test in the AFC Cup when it hosts FC Istiklol of Tajikistan at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 12, for the Leg 2 of the Inter-Zone semifinals at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.

It’s a do-or-die situation for the home team as the Busmen need to pour all they got to survive and advance to the next round.

The Philippine club is trailing a 4-0 deficit in this tournament after being held scoreless by the visitors during their first face-off last month in Dushanbe.

Ceres FC coach Risto Vidakovic said that while a 4-0 scoreline would be difficult for his team to achieve, he assured the team’s supporters that they will do their best to win.

“We have lots of respect to Istiklol. They are a strong team but, we will play our best,” he.

Vidakovic downplayed some concerns on reported injuries of his team after eight of them played last week for the national team Azkals in the Asian Cup.

“The players have fully recovered and are ready for the match,” he added.

Fil-German keeper Roland Muller said their last away game was quite tough.

“Our last game was really challenging, but we already learned from our mistakes. Our defense didn’t really work well,” he added.

The Ceres Negros is expected to play before the expected home crowd of 9,000 at the stadium.

Istiklol coach Mukhsin Mukhamadev said that while the team traveled for 30 hours from Dushanbe, they are ready for Tuesday's match.

The match will be shown live over cable channel Fox Sports 1.

Fans with tickets are encouraged to come early at the stadium to avoid traffic.