10 p.m. – Istiklol vs Ceres
Ceres-Negros begins another difficult task to its already-historic campaign in the AFC Cup, this time facing Istiklol of Tajikistan in an inter-zonal semifinal duel which starts tonight at the Hisor Central Stadium.
Two weeks removed from capturing the ASEAN zonal crown, the Busmen admit that keeping their campaign alive in Asia’s second-tier football competition will be easier said than done with Istiklol enter the encounter as clear favorites.
The Bacolod City outfit can only hope for a favorable result in today’s first leg set at 10 p.m.
Ceres made it this far after surviving Singapore’s Home United in the ASEAN zonal finals that ended with a 3-2 victory on aggregate.
Serbian coach Risko Vidakovic will bank on his talented core in hopes of pulling the upset over the 2012 AFC President’s Cup champion.
Leading the way are danger man Bienvenido Maranon, the Spanish striker who has scored eight goals in the competition, midfielders Manny Ott, Stephan Schrock, OJ Porteria and Kevin Ingreso and goalkeeper Roland Muller.
Also expected to be given key roles for the Busmen are Omid Nazari, Junior Munoz and Martin Steuble.
Istiklol topped Group D by going unbeaten in six matches to reach the inter-zonal semis, a record Ceres hopes to overcome.
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