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Ceres-Negros still eyeing finals berth after draw with Hanoi


BACOLOD CITY — After a 1-1 draw with Hanoi FC in the first leg of the semi-finals, Ceres-Negros FC remained keen on earning a trip to the ASEAN Zonal finals of the AFC Cup 2019.

“We have to prepare. We have to continue. We have to keep going,” top scorer Bienvenido Marañon said after the match on Tuesday night at the Panaad Park and Stadium.

The Spanish striker, who scored the goal for the Busmen in the 57th minute, was all praises for his teammates after the high-intensity match that saw the visitors equalizing 10 minutes later courtesy of Pape Omar Faye.

“I’m happy for the goal. I’m also happy for the job of the team. We did really good,” Marañon added.

Head coach Risto Vidakovic said that his players “did everything on the pitch and played really good”, but expressed dissatisfaction with the officiating which he believed put Ceres-Negros at a disadvantage.

“Usually, I don’t like to talk about the referee, but today I don’t know what happened. We never complained before but it’s too much already…In every game, there is something against Ceres. I don’t know why it’s like that,” Vidakovic pointed out.

Ceres-Negros, the reigning Philippines Football League champions, is eyeing a third finals appearance this year after capturing its first ASEAN Zonal title in 2017, and finishing runner-up last year.

Meanwhile, Hanoi FC head coach Chu Dinh Nghiem was also optimistic for the return match despite an injured striker, Ganiyu Oseni, who left the pitch in a stretcher on Tuesday night.

He said they have yet to know the extent of Oseni’s injury, but said that if the team’s top scorer cannot play in the next match, he will “find a solution for the team”.

Hanoi FC will host the second leg at Hang Day Stadium on June 25. (PNA)