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Ceres-Negros gears up for ‘difficult game’ vs. Hanoi


BACOLOD CITY — Ceres-Negros FC is up for a tough challenge against Hanoi FC in the first leg of the AFC Cup 2019 ASEAN Zonal semi-finals Tuesday night at the Panaad Park and Stadium here.

Risto Vidakovic, head coach of Ceres-Negros FC, said his players will fight hard against the Vietnamese club, which he described as “one of the strongest teams in Southeast Asia”.

“It’s very difficult to prepare for something like (this). It’s going to be a difficult game for us, but the motivation is very high. I’m sure my players are ready to reach the finals again,” Vidakovic said during the pre-match press conference held at Luxur Place on Monday afternoon.

The Serbian mentor is banking on experience to achieve another semi-finals success for the Busmen to reach the finals for the third time.

“This is the third time we’re playing in the semi-finals…The most important players are still with us. I think they are more experienced than before. They have reached the finals two times. They have been playing many games in the AFC Cup,” Vidakovic said.

Ceres-Negros, the current Philippines Football League champions, won the ASEAN Zonal title in 2017. The team was runner-up last year after losing to Singapore’s Home United, 3-1, on aggregate in the two-leg finals.

“Every game is something special, every game is different. You never know what can happen. I’m sure we are going to fight 100 percent,” Vidakovic added.

Curt Dizon, who is playing in the AFC Cup ASEAN Zone semi-finals for the first time, said he is excited to play for the massive game as he acknowledged that the Vietnamese squad has “good players” as well.

For his part, Hanoi FC head coach Chu Dinh Nghiem said they have prepared well for the match against Ceres-Negros which he considers a “good team”.

Ceres-Negros had faced Hanoi twice before, the last time during the group stage in 2017 when the Filipino club won 6-2, with striker Bienvenido Marañon scoring twice.

Marañon and Hanoi striker Ganiyu Oseni, who have nine goals apiece in the 2019 campaign, are set to feature as goals could be the order of the day once again. (PNA)