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Binh Duong in determined mood ahead of Ceres clash, says Thanh Long

Bacolod City: Nguyen Thanh Long believes a recent upturn in Becamex Binh Duong’s form can help the Vietnamese side gain the result they need against Group G winners Ceres Negros as they aim to qualify for the 2019 AFC Cup knockout rounds. 

Binh Duong defeated Persija Jakarta 3-1 two weeks ago to eliminate the Indonesian side and remain in the hunt for a place in the ASEAN Zonal semi-finals ahead of their match in the Philippines on Wednesday.

They have since picked up four points from two games in the V-League, including a 1-0 victory over Saigon at the weekend which helped move them towards mid-table.

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“After the recent victory in the domestic league, the whole team is very confident and determined before this match,” said defender Thanh Long, who came off the bench in the win over Persija.

“We have to win this game in order to make it to the next round so this will definitely be a tough fixture for the whole team.

“But it’s also true that the win against Persija has helped the team a lot and given us real hope that we can continue in the tournament.”

Ceres have won all five of their Group G games and confirmed their place in the next round following a 5-0 victory over Myanmar’s Shan United a fortnight ago.

With only one guaranteed qualification spot from each group in the ASEAN Zone, Binh Duong are now fighting it out with a number of sides to finish as the best-placed runners-up.

Victory would put them in a strong position to advance, but it will also depend on the result between their domestic rivals Hanoi FC and Singapore’s Tampines Rovers in Group F, while goal difference may yet be a factor.

“Ceres are a strong team with lots of good players, so our team needs to play with solidarity, concentration and determination at the highest level if we want to win,” admitted Thanh Long.

“We talked to each other about the Hanoi situation and, like us, they need a victory to be able to go on. I hope both teams can go far in this tournament.”

As a defender, one man Thanh Long will have to be wary of is the hosts’ prolific striker Bienvenido Maranon, the tournament’s nine-goal leading scorer who netted a hat-trick in Ceres’ 3-1 victory against Binh Duong in Vietnam on Matchday Two.

“Not only Maranon but Ceres' other attackers are also very dangerous,” added Thanh Long. “But I think our coaching staff have the right solutions to help the team succeed in this match.”

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