CERES Negros heads to Singapore with the hope of moving one step closer in its bid to be the best club in Southeast Asia when it takes on Home United in the AFC Cup Regional Finals on Wednesday at the Bishan stadium in Singapore.
The Busmen are eager to relive the same magic that filled the air in Panaad, when they triumphed against Johor Darul Ta'zim in the regional semifinals late May.
They had to thread the needle against the Southern Tigers as Fernando Rodriguez scored a last minute penalty to tie the aggregate score at four apiece and advance by virtue of away goals.
The Singaporean XI, on the other hand, got to this point by pulling the rug from Global Cebu, with Stipe Plazibat breaking the hearts of the Cebuanos on both legs.
Plazibat scored the equalizer in Rizal on Global's home leg, and then scored the final two goals on their home turf to take a 3-2 win.
Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic urged his wards to leave that moment in Panaad in the past and focus on the tough task against Home United.
"This is a different game. I think we have to respect Home United because they reach the final and they deserve it, same as us," Vidakovic said.
"They fought for that and tomorrow is surely a tough game. Both teams want to be the champions in this part of Asia so everyone will give everything to go forward,” he added.
Because of the transfer window, Ceres bolstered its pace and firepower as they were able to register Stephan Schrock and Omid Nazari for the tournament.
These two will only strengthen an already loaded line-up led by the Spanish pair of Rodriguez and Bienve Maranon up front and a rock solid midfield with Manny Ott, Kevin Ingreso, Martin Steuble and Iain Ramsay.
Vidakovic hopes that the moves are enough for them to pull off a win in Bishan, a place that hasn't been favorable at all for visitors.
“It's always an advantage (for the opponent) to play at home. We play two games so we have 180 minutes," said Vidakovic.
"We reached the final because we fought before, we played against strong teams, and we played as a team. For tomorrow, we have to do the same to get a good result for a next game at home."
Ceres will then fly back home on August 2 for their home leg in Panaad.