Ceres-Negros FC fell to a 2-1 loss against Home United in the first leg of the ASEAN Zonal Final of the AFC Cup last August 2 at the Jalan Besar Stadium. Harris Harun scored the go-ahead goal for the Singaporean squad late in the second half to give them the lead going in to the second leg in Bacolod.
The Busmen were behind early in the match when referee Horoyuki Kimura awarded Home with a penalty after a foul in the box. Stipe Platibat slotted in the penalty for the opening goal in the 11th minute. Ceres tried to score an equalizer four minutes after but Manuel Ott’s free kick just curled over the top corner.
The Defenders almost scored a second goal when Adam Swandi rose for a free header which hit the crossbar in the 21st. Moments later, winger Khairul Nizam took a shot from distance and forced Roland Muller for a block. Ceres-Negros almost scored the equalizer in the 28th minute when a Kevin Ingreso free kick bounced in front of goal and in but the assistant referee ruled the players offside.
Another goal was disallowed minutes later Fernando Rodriguez’s tap-in in front of goal. The referee ruled the initial pass to Iain Ramsay as the culprit with replays showing a very close call. Stephan Schrock had a chance in the 36th but his shot was over. Home United again was dangerous after a Khairul Nizam cross was missed by Plazibat. It was in injury time when Ceres scored a well deserved equalizer after a rocket from Martin Steuble slipped through Hassan Sunny’s hands.
The home squad had the first chance in the second half when Khairul’s teasing header was tapped out by Muller. Kevin Ingreso’s free kick in the hour mark was on target but was tapped over the crossbar by Hassan. Nizam was again dangerous in the 65th after his header was again tapped out by the Ceres keeper.
The away squad had a great chance when Iain Ramsay forced Hassan to a terrific save. The follow-up header by Bienvenido Maranon however sailed over the bar. Home United had a terrific chance to go ahead in the 76th when the ball fell to Farris Ramli but the United winger’s shot curled wide. Harris made the visitors pay six minutes before time when he latched on to a free ball in the box to score the winner for the Defenders. Both teams had good chances in the dying minutes but the Singaporean club came out as winners in the final whistle.
“It was a tough game and I think my team today didn’t play good.,” said Coach Risto Vidakovic. “Maybe the worst game we saw in the last few months. We didn’t play as a team, which I don’t like, so I hope we’ll improve a lot at the next game at home and I think that the result is still open,” he added.
The Busmen will host Home United for the second leg on August 9 in Panaad Stadium. The Negros squad will bank on home field advantage coupled with a crucial away goal in order to get through to the next round.
Photos from Robbie Oca and Lagardere Sports/AFC Cup