Busmen falls short at semis


CERES-Negros fell short on the first leg of its Asean Zone semifinals, as Malaysian rival Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) escaped with a 3-2 victory in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup 2017 on Wednesday night at the Larkin Stadium in Johor Bahru.

The Busmen squandered a 2-1 lead as JDT’s Safiq Rahim equalized the match in the 44th minute for a 2-2 score at halftime. Hazwan Bakri provided the go-ahead third goal in the 68th minute that served as the game winner for the Malaysians in front of their 14,280 fans.

Ceres had so many chances to score its third goal—two attempts from OJ Porteria before halftime and in the 54th minute and a free kick by Manny Ott in the 66th—only to be saved by JDT keeper Farizal Marlias.

JDT drew the first blood through its Argentinian striker Gonzalo Cabrera, who rolled past Ceres goalie Roland Muller in the 18th minute. But the Busmen accelerated with a 2-1 lead over the Malaysians when Spaniards Fernando Rodriguez and Bienvenido Maranon delivered rousing goals in the 21st and 25th minute, respectively.


On the bright side, Ceres scored two away goals that won’t bring the Filipino club so much down in its home-and-away series with JDT. The Busmen goes home to Bacolod for the last leg of their Asean Zone semis on May 31 at the Pana-ad Football Stadium. They need to score at least a 1-0 win to advance.

Fellow Filipino club Global will have a hard time and need to win big in the second leg of their own series on May 30 at Jalan Besar Stadium. Global allowed Singapore’s Home United to score two away goals and force a heartbreaking 2-2 draw on Tuesday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

If both Pinoy clubs advance to the next round, Philippine football will witness history with Ceres and Global clashing in the AFC Cup Asean Zone Finals. Lance Agcaoili

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