Ceres-Negros to face Hanoi in ASEAN Zone semis

PITCH ACTION Vietnam’s Becamex Binh Duong beats Ceres-Negros, 1-0, in the Group G match on Wednesday night (May 15, 2019) at the Panaad Park Stadium in Bacolod City to book a trip to the ASEAN Zone semi-finals of AFC Cup 2019. The already qualified Filipino squad will face another Vietnamese team, Hanoi FC, in the two-leg semis on June 18 and 25. (Photo from the AFC Cup Twitter account)

BACOLOD City – Ceres-Negros FC will face Hanoi FC of Vietnam in the semi-finals of the AFC Cup 2019 next month in its bid to regain the ASEAN Zone title after finishing runner-up last year.

The Filipino club, mentored by Risto Vidakovich, wrapped up the group stage with 15 points at the top of Group G, but failed to complete a six-game sweep after losing to Vietnam’s Becamex Binh Duong, 0-2, in front of the home crowd at the Panaad Park and Stadium on Wednesday night.

“We have to rest and recover first. Enjoy some free days,” Vidakovic said.

Ceres-Negros, the 2017 ASEAN Zonal champions, will host the first leg at the Panaad Park and Stadium on June 18 while the return leg will be played at Hang Day Stadium in Hanoi on June 25.

Becamex Binh Duong’s win against Ceres-Negros earned the Vietnamese squad a semi-finals berth as best runner-up. It will take on Indonesia’s PSM Makassar, which topped Group H, in the tournament’s next phase. Hanoi FC was the leader in Group F.

At the Panaad Stadium, Brazilian forward Wander Luiz scored the lone goal in the 88th minute and gave Binh Duong three points to keep ahead of Group F’s Tampines Rovers of Singapore to stay alive in the continental club competition.

After an early penalty missed by Nguyen Anh Duc, the Vietnamese side struggled to score against the Busmen, which already qualified in the semi-finals.

“In the second half, we came out and attacked because we had to score and win the match. It was so important for us to get the victory here and qualify for the next stage,” Luiz said in the post-match interview.

Luiz said he thinks that Ceres-Negros is a great team, but believes they played well and deserved to win. (PNA)