Analysis: In-form Home dethrone Ceres
Singapore: A second-half blitz from Home United saw them overcome an undermanned Ceres Negros 2-0 to be crowned 2018 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal champions on Wednesday.
The 3-1 aggregate win heals the wounds from their loss to Ceres at the same point of the competition in 2017, and sets up an intriguing clash against DPR Korea side 4.25 SC in the Inter-Zone semi-finals.
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It was noticeable on Wednesday just how much Ceres missed their Spanish striker Bienvenido Maranon as they struggled to convert possession and chances into goals.
The Spaniard has scored 10 goals in eight matches this campaign, but was suspended for this tie after collecting a red card against Yangon United in the ASEAN Zonal semi-finals in May.
On Wednesday, without their main marksman, Ceres struggled in the final third, as shown on their shooting map (above). In total they had 13 shots on the night, but could only manage two shots on target.
Without the lethal finishing of Maranon, and the always attacking style of brothers Manny and Mike Ott, the visitors looked a far cry from the team that had scored 24 goals in nine games previous to this match.
It’s hard to think where Home United would be this year without their star Korea Republic midfielder Song Ui-young.
The 24-year-old has been the standout player for the Singaporean side this season, and on Wednesday he added to his impressive goal scoring tally, with his eighth goal in nine matches in this campaign. He has now scored in all but one game in which he’s played in the 2018 tournament.
It may not have been his best performance, with Ceres doing a good job of negating his influence in midfield, as evidenced by his sparse heat map (above). But like any good player, he was in the right spot at the right time, getting on the end of Faritz Abdul Hameed’s inch-perfect cross to seal the win for The Protectors.
Playing alongside Song Ui-young in midfield is the leader of Home United, captain Izzdin Shafiq, who produced another quality performance to lead his team to victory.
It was Izzdin who provided the cross for the opening goal, and across the night he had 47 touches, 29 passes – at an accuracy of 86.2 percent – and contributed two key passes. It was a complete performance.
His passing map (above) shows how little he wasted the ball, and given Home United’s style is to sit back and allow possession to the opposition, it places a greater emphasis on the team to use it well when they have the ball and Izzdin certainly did that on Wednesday.
Home United have now won six of their last seven AFC Cup games and will go into the first leg of their Inter-Zone semi-final against 4.25 at Jalan Besar Stadium in just under two weeks’ time full of confidence.
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