Súper excited for 'unbelievable experience' at Gelora Bung Karno
Jakarta: Ceres Negros' Spanish defender Manuel Herrera, better known as Súper, can't wait for the cauldron of noise that awaits the Philippines champions when they take on Persija Jakarta on Tuesday.
Last year's AFC Cup matches at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta were unquestionably one of the highlights of the 2018 tournament, with the passionate fans of Persija breaking multiple attendance records for the competition as they packed the stands.
Had Persija defeated Singapore's Home United in the 2018 ASEAN Zonal semi-finals they would have faced Tuesday's opponents Ceres-Negros in the ASEAN Zonal final, but a surprise defeat to the Singaporeans ended the chance of the Indonesia-Philippines clash, and with it Ceres' chance to taste the sensational atmosphere generated at the Gelora Bung Karno.
Until, that is, this week's vital Group G clash in Indonesia's capital.
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"It will be a very big game. They are the best team in Indonesia and we are the best team in the Philippines," said centre-back Súper, who joined Ceres in December 2016 after leaving his native Spain.
"You can see the team’s performances in their domestic leagues last year, so, for sure, it will be a very big game."
Dominant in their respective domestic leagues, it has been a different story on the Continent this year.
Ceres' perfect record sees them lead Group G, two points ahead of Vietnam's Becamex Binh Duong, while Persija are a further three points back in third place.
A fourth straight win would greatly increase the Filipino club's chances of returning to the ASEAN Zonal semi-finals for a third consecutive year with two matches remaining, and leave Persija hoping for, at best, a place in the knockout stage as best second placed side.
But if there's any place that Persija can turn their campaign around, it would be at their home fortress in front of the passionate 'Jakmania' support. An experience that Súper can relate to.
"I know what it’s like playing in a big stadium in front of a big crowd," he said, having been part of the Ceres side that defeated Persija 1-0 on Matchday Three.
"Five years ago, [with CF Villanovense] I played against Barcelona at the Nou Camp in the Spanish Cup with around 70 to 80,000 fans present."
"It’s an unbelievable experience to take part in a match like this.
"You can breathe real football – it’s a crazy feeling.
"Playing in front of so many fans, you get so excited. So, for sure, Tuesday will be fun."
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