Top of the table squads Ceres-Negros and Becamex Binh Duong lock horns for the final time in the group stage of the AFC Cup when they clash on March 15 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
Ceres-Negros have already made the semis after being unbeaten after five matches while Becamex fights for survival as it needs a win and favorable result in the other group to get through to the next round.
The home squad has matched the most points scored in the ASEAN zone to fifteen, similar to Global FC in 2017, and can go further with a draw or a win. The visitors are hoping for a favorable victory by Hanoi over Tampines Rovers to be able to snatch a slot to the next round.
Both teams fared to a 1-3 result in favor of Ceres in their first meeting in the Go Dau Stadium last March 12. Bienvenido Maranon topscored for the Busmen while Wander Luiz got one for the home squad.
Ceres-Negros fought back quickly from the Brazilians equalizer scoring two successive goals to pin the Vietnam Cup champions in their home turf. This victory set the tone for the Philippine squad’s successive performance but Becamex has improved tremendously since then.
Three consecutive wins over Shan United and Persija have pegged them to be the distant favorites in race for the best second spot as the have scored eleven goals since they met Ceres.
To Van Vu and Anh Duc together with Wander and Victor Mansaray have been on target for the south Vietnam squad and will be looking forward for an upset in Panaad.
With the group already clinched ahead of time, the Negros squad can fancy any result but the lessons of the past cannot be ignored especially when playing against an opponent who needs a win for qualification on the final day.
A very motivated Home United squad beat the Philippine champs in 2018 which allowed them to win the group and relegate Ceres to the best second spot. This momentum eventually propelled them to the final where they beat the Busmen over two legs and earn the ASEAN Zonal title.
Ceres-Negros welcomes back Super Herrera from suspension after missing the Shan United match. The rest of the squad is at Risto Vidakovic’s disposal for the game which is set to kick off at 8PM.
Becamex Binh Duong will be hoping for a win by their compatriots in the 6PM match versus Tampines Rovers which sets up a must-win match against Ceres. A win by the Singaporeans will make things complicated for Becamex given Hanoi’s superior goal difference.
The match will be shown live over local channel 5PLUS and cable channel Fox Sports (1). It will also be streamed live in the Philippines via the ESPN5 YouTube channel.
Photos from the AFC Cup