Ceres-Negros Coach Risto Vidakovic praised his team for giving their best in a must-win match against Vietnamese giants Hanoi last night. The team fought valiantly to erect a 3-1 lead after sixty minutes before the floodgates were opened due to the sending off of a visiting player.
“It was very hard,” said the Serbian-born Coach in the post match press conference “For me (they are) the strongest team in the group, but my players gave everything that they had with high intensity between 90 minutes. I think this was the key, I think it’s the big difference.”
The Busmen came off a deflating loss against Felda United in Malaysia two weeks ago and it was a low point for everyone in the club. When asked to explain the difference of the two matches the coach remarked, “For me it was very easy because the game in Felda, we lost because we didn’t have the same intensity in the game. Today was different and they know already that if you concentrate and you play as a team, fight for each other, and run, we can beat everyone.”
A big win against Hanoi was deemed impossible before the match until Ceres came out with the urgency to extend their AFC Cup campaign. The former La Liga veteran emphasized the difficulty that these competitions have especially the motivation for this campagin.
“I think its not easy for the players to be motivated in every game,” said Vidakovic. “Sometimes if you play against a strong opponent, the motivation is different. so it was for us a crucial game, we have everything to lose today the only aim was to win the game. I think the players did everything and they were concentrated for 90 minutes and I think thats why we won today”, he a.dded.
The fight for AFC Cup survival is not over yet as the Bacolod-based squad still need a win to secure the direct qualification to the ASEAN Zone Semifinals. With the four teams in group G separated by just three points, the fight for qualification will be decided on the final day with concurrent matches on May the 3rd in Singapore and Vietnam. Ceres will face Tampines Rovers at the the Jalan Besar Stadium with kickoff slated at 730PM.