CERES-NEGROS FACES TOUGH TREK IN CROWN RETENTION BID WITH TOP STRIKER SUSPENDED
YANGON— Playing in searing conditions against a team that refused to quit, Ceres-Negros dug deep Wednesday to keep its title-retention bid on track in the AFC Cup Asean zonal phase.
But the task just gets tougher from here for the Busmen with star striker Bienvenido Marañon expected to miss the two-legged final against Home United in August following a straight red card in the second leg against Myanmar National League powerhouse Yangon United at Thuwunna Stadium here.
Yangon beat Ceres, 3-2, in the second leg after scoring two late goals following Marañon’s dismissal in the 79th minute, but the Bacolod-based side prevailed, 6-5, on the strength of its two-goal victory at Panaad Stadium last week.
“We definitely showed that we can play over our limits,” said midfielder Manny Ott, who combined with Stephan Schrock in scoring the equalizer in the ninth minute. “Everyone was tired because this was our third match in a week. The conditions were tough, it wasn’t our best game and we know we can do better, but everyone was fighting to get the result.”
In his fourth season with the club, Ceres defender Carlie De Murga said the squad’s character came to the fore in front of a hostile crowd and a team that used physicality to rattle them. Yangon scored two goals in the space of four minutes to move within a goal, before the Busmen-held on.
“The opponent was pushing us high and attacked us all the time,” said De Murga. “But we were mature enough to suffer and that allowed us to be in the finals.”