Schröck hails ‘massive’ win for Ceres
Bacolod City: Stephan Schröck has emphasised the significance of Ceres Negros’ 1-0 victory over Indonesia’s Persija Jakarta in the 2019 AFC Cup on Wednesday as the Filipino side moved five points clear at the top of Group G.
Ceres went into the game two points ahead of their opponents after claiming maximum points from their two previous games, but were up against arguably their biggest rivals for the one automatic qualification spot.
Bienvenido Maranon’s early strike ultimately settled proceedings as the striker’s fifth goal of the campaign proved enough for Ceres to finish the day in a commanding position at the midway point of the group stage.
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“It was a massive, massive win for us, especially considering that we only play every three weeks as our league hasn’t started yet,” Filipino international Schröck told media after the game.
“To stay undefeated at the top of the group is very, very good. What we need to improve is our match fitness but that’s hard because the league hasn’t started yet.
“It’s also hard to get friendly games in the Philippines, so it is a big challenge for us to get match fitness and in shape for 90 minutes of hard competition.”
9' - GOAL!! CERES NEGROS 1-0 Persija Jakarta!— FOX Sports LIVE! (@FSAsiaLive) April 3, 2019
Martin Steuble floats in a brilliant cross and Bienvenido Maranon does the rest as he heads the ball in to give hosts @CeresNegrosFC the lead against @Persija_Jkt! #CERvPSJ #AFCCup2019 pic.twitter.com/ItXkOhEKyF
With the Philippine Premier League still yet to kick off, Ceres have been focusing solely on the AFC Cup – a competition in which they were crowned ASEAN Zonal champions in 2017 and then finished as ASEAN Zonal runners-up last year.
The Bacolod City side have again begun in fine form, defeating Myanmar’s Shan United 3-2 in their opening game and then running out 3-1 winners away at Vietnam’s Becamex Binh Duong three weeks ago in a match that saw Mananon score a hat-trick.
The Spaniard finished as joint second-highest scorer in the competition last year with 10 goals, and he is in equally fine form this year, with his arching header on nine minutes taking his tally to five goals after just three games.
FULL-TIME | Ceres Negros (PHI) 1-0 Persija Jakarta (IDN)— AFC Cup (@AFCCup) April 3, 2019
@CeresNegrosFC sit pretty on top of Group G with 3 wins out of 3! Defeating @Persija_Jkt in front of their home fans! 🙌 🙌 🙌#CERvPSJ #AFCCup2019 pic.twitter.com/E8gPVJDbpv
“Bienvenido is one of a kind but it’s not only him, we had a lot of players who stepped up in this game,” added Schröck..
“Obviously he’s the one who put it into the back of the net but in the build-up we have Kevin [Ingreso], Martin [Steuble], Alvaro [Silva] and Roland [Muller], who did a great job today as well. So we’re very blessed with talented and great players.
“We work hard because nothing beats hard work. We try to improve things from the previous games and from 1-25, not just the 18 in the squad for game day, all the players are working hard and there for each other.”
Ceres, who are five points ahead of both Persija and Becamex, travel to Jakarta for the return fixture in two weeks’ time. Depending on the result between Becamex and Shan United, a win could see them wrap up top spot with two games to spare.
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