Ceres-Negros returns to the Zonal Semis to face Myanmar’s Yangon United on May 9 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod. The Negros squad returns for the third straight year in the knockout stages as it attempts to defend its ASEAN title in last years edition of the tournament.
Yangon qualified for the semis after lording over Group G finishing on top with 13 points. The Myanmar National League leaders raced to three successive wins to give themselves five point lead midway in the group stage.
United surprisingly lost in Match Day four to Global Cebu but easily recovered to earn qualification in the next match by disposing Bali United and securing their place in the next round.
Ceres meanwhile had to wait for match day six before confirming their qualification after the loss of Song Lam Nghe An in Group H. The Filipino club fell on their final assignment versus Home United which dropped them to best second in the ASEAN Zone setting up the semifinal clash with the Group G winners.
Sekou Sylla and Maung Maung Lwin are the key players for Yangon with the former Global import bagging the most goals while Lwin has been the creative force from the wings creating opportunities and scoring goals as well.
Bienvenido Maranon is the top scorer for Ceres-Negros with seven goals in the AFC Cup followed by Takumi Uesato with three. It will a good test for both defenses with Ceres having allowed lesser goals in the group stage.
Like Ceres, Yangon United is littered with the top national players and quality foreign players. Japanese midfielder Kosuke Uchida, Ivorian defender Moukailou Kekere, and ace Nigerial striker Emmanuel Ikechukwu are the three other foreign players for the Myanmar squad.
Aside from Lwin, other young player to watch are midfielders Kyaw Zin Oo, Min Kyaw Khant and national mainstays David Htan and team captain Yan Aung Kyaw.
The Burmese squad has qualified for the knockout stages in 2013 and 2014 while the Filipino squad is looking to equal their semifinal victory over Johor Darul Ta’zim in the 2017 edition of the zonal semis.
The match will be the zonal semifinal debut of Stephan Schrock, Patrick Reichelt, and Omid Nazari who first appeared in the zonal final last year. Toni Doblas, Sean Kane, and Mike Ott make their maiden appearance in the knockout stages of the tournament.
Festivities are set to start at 7pm at the provincial stadium with a good sized crowd expected for the important semifinal leg. The match can be viewed via Fox Sports (1) channel and the respective Fox livestreams.
Photos from the AFC Cup/Lagardere Sports