Midfielder Stephan Schrock hailed Ceres-Negros’ stirring performance in Wednesday’s victory over Singapore’s Home United in the ASEAN zonal finals that kept their campaign going in the AFC Cup.
Goals by OJ Porteria and Manny Ott in the first half were enough to give the Busmen a 3-2 win on aggregate at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City to arrange an inter-zone semis clash with Istiklol of Tajikistan later this month.
Making the inter-zonal semis marked the biggest feat ever achieved by a Filipino club in an Asian club tournament, but not after Ceres put up a courageous stand that came after dropping the first leg, 2-1, in the first leg in Singapore.
“After the match, the players were crying on the pitch because we left it all out there,” Schrock said, as quoted by the AFC’s official website. “We put in the performance of our life in this final. We deserve to make history for the club, the country and Southeast Asia.”
The Busmen will have their hands full against the Dushanbe outfit in their two-legged duel which will see the winner move on to the inter-zone final against either Indian club Bengaluru or North Korea’s April 25.
The first leg is set Aug. 22 in Dushanbe with the return match slated Sept. 12 in Bacolod City.
Schrock turned out to be a key addition for the Busmen in the ASEAN zonal finals, repaying Serbian coach Risko Vidakovic’s faith by putting him in the starting 11.
Porteria’s volley two minutes after kickoff set the stage for a memorable evening for the Busmen, who were all business upon entering the pitch.
Ott doubled it up near halftime with a long strike off a set piece before Ceres’ defense prevented Home United from scoring a goal that would have forced extra time.
“Even though we came into the game knowing that we can go through with a 1-0 win, we were focused and very professional,” said Schrock. “I am very proud to have the opportunity to represent this team.”