Ceres eye 'home' support for final showdown with Home United
Philippine side count on loyal support in Singapore to drive them to victory over Home United
|HOME UNITED||CERES NEGROS|
On paper, Ceres Negros are the "away" team, but the Philippine side consider Singapore as a second home of sorts.
They have taken part in the last two editions of the RHB Singapore Cup - they finished third in last year's competition - and have also played pre-season friendlies against S.League sides before the start of their domestic season in the last two years.
In the past two seasons, they have also been grouped with S.League side Tampines Rovers in the group stages of the AFC Cup.
When Ceres take on Home United in the first leg of the AFC Cup Asean final tomorrow night, they can count on a loyal group of Singapore-based Filipino supporters to show up at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Midfielder Iain Ramsay said he and his teammates were looking forward to seeing familiar faces in the stands again tomorrow.
"There were definitely a few Filipino fans who came to the game against Tampines (a 4-2 win in May)," said the Perth-born 29-year-old.
"It was a crucial match for us because we had needed a win to make sure we go to the next phase of the AFC Cup, so it was good to have their support.
"I'm sure they'll be here again when we play Home United."
Ceres head coach Risto Vidakovic also expects a sizeable support tomorrow.
“To me, both teams are pretty much even. They have some good local players, the same as us. It will come down to who wants it more. But we are ready to make history.”Ceres Negros playmaker Stephan Schrock
"Yes, we expect some (Filipinos) living here to come and watch the game," said the former Real Betis defender.
"But we also know there are fans from the island of Negros, where we are from, who will be coming here from the Philippines for this game.
"Of course, there is more support when we play at home. But still, this support (here) will be very important for us."
The second leg will be played on Aug 9 in the Philippines, where Ceres regularly attract over 8,000 fans to their matches.
Home will be hoping they will be crowned the first AFC Asean zonal champions - in the competition's revamped format - on Singapore's 52nd birthday.
Ceres are flying high in the Philippine Football League, winning six of their last seven matches, scoring a whopping 27 goals and conceding just five.
Recent wins included two 7-0 victories - over Ilocos United and title-chasing Loyola Meralco Sparks.
With a squad packed with foreign-born Filipino internationals like Ramsay, Patrick Reichelt, Manny Ott, Jeffrey Christiaens and dynamic playmaker Stephan Schrock, they will pose a tough test for Home.
SHROCK WANTS TO SHOCK
But Schrock, who has Bundesliga and Europa League experience having played for Hoffenheim, Eintracht Frankfurt and Greuter Fuerth, is not underestimating the Singaporean side.
"To me, both teams are pretty much even," said the 30-year-old Bavaria-born playmaker.
"Both teams have good strikers, we have Bienve (Spanish striker Bienvenido Maranon) who has eight AFC Cup goals and they have (Croatian striker) Stipe Plazibat who has seven.
"They have some good local players, the same as us.
"It will come down to who wants it more.
"But we are ready to make history."
- Tickets for tomorrow's game are priced at $8 (adult) and $2 (children), and can be purchased at the Bishan Stadium ticket office during office hours, today and tomorrow.
They are also available at the Jalan Besar Stadium from 6.45pm tomorrow. A family bundle, consisting of two adult tickets and two children's tickets, is priced at $16.