Preview - ASEAN Zonal SF 1st Leg: Ceres Negros FC v Hanoi FC
Bacolod City: Ceres Negros FC and Hanoi FC will face off in the first leg of the 2019 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal semi-finals on Tuesday as the Filipino side aim to progress to the regional final for the third successive year.
Ceres progressed to the knockout rounds for the fourth year running by topping Group G after five successive wins to advance with a game to spare.
Hanoi, meanwhile, needed a Matchday Six victory over Tampines Rovers to leapfrog the Singaporean side and win Group F by the narrowest of margins.
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Ceres Negros have forged a reputation as one of the strongest teams in the ASEAN Zone in recent years and they again proved they are a force to be reckoned with in becoming the first side to seal their place in the knockout rounds.
Fifteen points from 15 in their first five Group G matches saw the Bacolod City club advance with minimal fuss as Indonesia’s Persija Jakarta, Vietnam’s Becamex Binh Duong and Myanmar’s Shan United were all defeated along the way.
Having beaten Singapore’s Home United in the 2017 ASEAN Zonal final, Ceres lost out at the same stage to the same opponents last year, and they return looking to make the Inter-Zone semi-finals for the second time.
In nine-goal Bienvenido Maranon they boast the tournament’s joint-top scorer, while midfielders Stephan Schrock and Mike Ott are creators-in-chief for the prolific Spaniard.
Taking part in the AFC Cup for the first time since 2017, Hanoi FC progressed as Group F winners and the highest-scoring team in the competition.
A record-breaking 10-0 opening-day win over Cambodia’s Naga World set them on their way but a surprise home defeat to Myanmar’s Yangon United on Matchday Three threatened to derail their campaign.
Hanoi recovered by winning their final three matches including, crucially, a 2-0 victory over Tampines in Vietnam that saw them top the standings by virtue of a better head-to-head record against the Singaporean side.
Striker Ganiyu Oseni has netted the same number of goals as Maranon, while Hanoi also boast a number of Vietnamese internationals, such as captain Nguyen Van Quyet and silky midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai – both of whom helped their country reach the 2019 AFC Asian UAE 2019 quarter-finals.
Ones To Watch:
Ceres Negros (PHI) vs Hanoi FC (VIE)
Venue: Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium, Bacolod City
Kick-off: June 18, 19:30 UTC+8
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