CERES Negros FC coach Risto Vidakovic refused to use the absence of midfielders Manny Ott and Kevin Ingreso as an excuse for an AFC Cup defeat against Felda United FC on Tuesday in Shah Alam, Malaysia.
Ott, out for the match for two yellow cards, and Ingreso, with a hamstring injury were badly missed in the away match against the Malaysia side, which won 3-0 at the near-empty 80,000-seat Shah Alam Stadium.
“We have other players,” said Vidakovic. “Nothing changed because we have other players that can play there.”
Vidakovic also credited Felda for taking advantage of their opportunities and scoring tough goals.
“I think the two goals, it was very hard. The shots were very good, practically impossible for the goalkeeper (to save) especially the second goal,” said Vidakovic.
Ceres, in third spot with five points in Group G, now faces a must-win in its next outings in the AFC Cup.
Only the top teams in Group F, G, and H where the Asean countries are bracketed as well as the best second-placers from all the groups will advance to the Asean zonal semifinals.
Vidakovic remains optimistic the team will find a way to make it to the next round.
“Everyone has possibilities to qualify,” said Vidakovic. “We now have a home game and we have to fight for that.”
That home game is set on April 19 at the Pana-ad Stadium in Bacolod City but it will be an arduous task as they face Group G leader Hanoi FC, which beat Tampines Rovers FC of Singapore, 2-1, on Tuesday night to claim the top spot in the bracket.
“If we win, maybe we have an option on the last game to qualify,” said Vidakovic.