Felda face stormy time
IMAGINE taking on a Filipino side consisting only of heritage players and foreign signings in their starting line-up?
A Malaysia club losing to a Filipino team is unimaginable but it could happen today when Ceres Negros FC hosts last year’s Super League runners-up Felda United in an AFC Cup Group G match in Bacolod City today.
Ceres, who lead the group with four points, are brimming with confidence for the match following the 5-0 thrashing of Singapore’s Tampines Rovers at home last week.
Felda have only a point after two matches and they desperately need to avoid defeat today to keep their hope alive in the competition.
Coach B. Sathianathan will have to reshuffle his defence as Lebanon centre-back Mootaz Jounaidi had failed to obtain a visa to travel for the match.
Felda have won once and drawn thrice since Sathianathan’s first game as coach on Feb 25.
Felda have improved in some aspects under Sathianathan but they need to start winning against big teams in order to gain motivation. The match today offers them the chance to get their season back on track.
Felda are well-rested as they have not played since the 1-1 draw with Hanoi last Tuesday.
“Mootaz did not get his visa while winger Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor and right-back Hasni Zaidi Jamian are injured.
“The short break after the match against Hanoi gave me the opportunity to work with the team in terms of fitness and strategy. They responded well and I am quite happy with the progress,” Sathianathan said yesterday.
He foresees a tough game and conceded that a draw today will be a bonus.
“There are only four Philippine-born players registered with Ceres but none are regulars. The others are heritage and foreigners.
“Ceres showed that Filipino football has improved when they thrashed Tampines 5-0 last week. They play the 4-3-3 system, and look very organised and solid.
“They have good individual players in Munich-born midfielder Manuel Ott and Spanish forward Fernando Rodriguez. I rate them as the best team in the group.”
Sathianathan reminded his players to be tactically disciplined. “I told them that it a tough game and that they must work hard. A point will be a good result.
“Our chance of making the next round is still there as we have two matches left at home.”
Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic