Ceres Negros FC seeks to keep its historic run in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup 2017 when it takes on FC Istiklol in the first leg of the Inter-zone semifinals today at the Hisor Central Stadium in Hisor, Tajikistan.
The Yellow Busmen begin another journey for a breakthrough when they collide with the Crowns at 7 p.m. (10 p.m. in the Philippines).
Ceres Negros advanced to the Inter-zone semifinals after ruling the Asean zone with a remarkable win against Home United FC, 3-2 on aggregate, early this month.
Seasoned midfielder Stephan Shrock stressed that the 27-hour long travel from Manila to the Tajik capital of Dushanbe would not affect their composure.
“The travel is too long, too much. Nevertheless, we’re here to make a milestone for Philippine football,” said Shrock.
“There’s nothing else on our minds except this game. We can take a big step with a result here,” added the former Azkals stalwart.
Istiklol, meanwhile, earned an outright berth to the stage as it topped Group D, beating Altyn Asyr FK of Turkmenistan, FC Dordoi Bishkek and FC Alay of Kyrgyzstan.
With the home crowd behind them, the defending Tajik champion’s top scorer Manuchehr Dzhalilov believes they have a clear advantage over the Filipino side.
“The fact that we will play in front of our fans is very important because we always need them and their support. We have prepared very well for this match,” said Dzhalilov.
The return leg is slated on September 12 at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.