Home United clinch ASEAN title
Singapore: Home United started Singapore’s National Day celebrations a day early by being crowned the 2018 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Champions after an historic 2-0 win over Filipino champions Ceres Negros in the second leg of their final on Wednesday.
Locked at 1-1 from the first leg last week, second half goals from Shakir Hamzah and Song Ui-young sealed the 3-1 aggregate win for the Singaporean side, earning them a spot in the Inter-Zone Semi-finals where they will face DPR Korea powerhouse 4.25 SC.
It was the visitors, who needed to win to defend their ASEAN Zonal title, who started the brighter of the two teams with Carli de Murga heading just wide from Stephan Schrock’s free-kick in the fourth minute.
Schrock attempted to turn provider again just over five minutes later with a cute outside-of-the-foot cross for Patrick Reichelt, but the winger saw his effort well saved by Home United custodian Rudy Khairullah.
Ceres’ Spanish defender Súper came agonisingly close to opening the scoring midway through the first half, but saw his diving header smash off the crossbar as the visitors pushed hard to find the opening goal they needed.
There was another smash late in the half when Reichelt and Rudy collided when challenging for the ball in the box, a collision that saw the Ceres winger stretchered from the field and play stopped for a lengthy period.
The home side took control of the game in the second half and took the lead just after the hour mark when Shakir leapt over the top of de Murga and Toni Doblas to head home Izzdin Shafiq’s corner, to the delight of the vocal home crowd in attendance at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The win for Aidil Sharin’s side was secured 15 minutes from time when Faritz Abdul Hameed’s cross from the right found an unmarked Song wide open in the box, with the Korea Republic midfielder heading the ball back across goal to leave Toni flat-footed and double his side’s lead.
The goal continued Song’s impressive goal scoring form in this year’s AFC Cup campaign, with the 24-year-old scoring in all but one of Home United’s matches he has featured in this season, with eight goals to his name in total.
The Singapore side, who fell at this stage of the competition last year, now face 4.25 SC in the Inter-Zone Semi-finals, with those matches to be played later this month.