DOWN but not out, Ceres Negros will once again look to bank on some Panaad magic when it tackles Home United in the return leg of the 2017 AFC Cup Asean Zonal Finals on Wednesday in Bacolod.
Aggregate score is 1-2 after the Defenders stood their ground at the Bishan stadium last week with Harris Harun and Stipe Plazibat delivering goals.
It was an unfortunate result for the Negrosanon side that had two goals disallowed following close offsides.
A silver lining in the defeat was the away goal that Martin Steuble scored from distance in added time of the first half.
They have shown what they can do with an away goal on hand after stunning Johor Darul Ta’zim in the semis and they hope to relieve the same type of magic against the Singaporeans.
“We are really strong at home and this gives me a lot of optimism ahead of the second leg in Bacolod,” said Ceres keeper Roland Muller who made some impressive saves in the first leg but was virtually helpless against Plazibat and Harim’s goals.
“We will play on natural grass at home in front of our support so, of course, it will be a totally different game,” he added.
Muller rued their positioning against Home, particularly in the winner where Harun snuck past the Ceres backline on the setpiece to head home the winner. It’s something that he hopes they get to work on in the home leg.
“The first leg was a really intensive game but it was clear we had some problems in defense, we gave away quite a few chances and our positioning was, at times, not right,” Muller continued.
“We know exactly what we did wrong, and we have to do better. We have to change, to improve, and we’ll prepare for the second leg accordingly.”
The winner of this leg will go on to the Inter-zone playoff semifinals against Tajikistan side Istiklol on August 22 and Sept 12.