By Jerome S. Galunan, Jr.
Ceres-Negros FC faces an uphill battle in their upcoming second leg of the 2017 AFC Cup Inter-zone play-off semifinal against FC Istiklol of Tajikistan, following the 4-0 loss the Negrense side suffered in the first leg.
“We will give them (FC Istiklol) a good fight in Panaad,” said Ceres midfielder Stephan Schröck.
Meanwhile, the club also released a statement in the aftermath of the defeat, saying, “Our loss will serve as our inspiration and motivation to bounce back.”
The two clubs meet again next month, September 12, at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.
The Tajik side earned their first goal through a penalty kick, after Ceres defender Kota Kawase was called for a foul inside the penalty area. Istiklol defender Akhtam Nazarov went on to successfully convert the penalty in the 25th minute.
Istiklol midfielder Romish Dzhalilov then doubled the lead in the closing minutes of the first half.
In the second half, the Tajik side took control as striker Manuchekhr Dzhalilov earned a brace through goals in the 67th and 88th minute.
Despite the loss, the Negrense side held a majority of possession, at 58 percent; however, they only managed to attempt five shots, compared to the 18 fired off by FC Istiklol./WDJ