Home comfort for Protectors
Home United can count on home comfort as they begin their quest for AFC Cup glory in August.
The Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League side will play the first leg of their Asean final against Philippine outfit Ceres Negros at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Aug 2.
The return leg will be played in Bacolod City on Aug 9.
The schedule was made at the tournament's knockout round draw in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Home have been in sterling form at Jalan Besar in this season's AFC Cup, winning all three matches and scoring 10 goals.
Protectors coach Aidil Sharin, however, played down the supposed advantage.
"For me, it doesn't really make any difference (to play at home first)," he said.
"Of course, it's important to get a good result in the first game, because the second leg will be tougher.
"But look at what happened to JDT (Johor Darul Ta'zim)... Their games against Ceres are a good eye-opener for us."
Aidil was referring to Malaysian side JDT's capitulation to Ceres in the Asean semi-final.
JDT had won the first leg at home 3-2, but lost 2-1 in the return leg, and were knocked out on the away-goals rule.
Aidil expects a different type of challenge from Ceres as compared to fellow Philippine side Global Cebu, whom Home had beaten 5-4 on aggregate in the other Asean semi-final.
Global had already met Singapore opposition this season, recording a double over Tampines Rovers in the AFC Cup group stage.
They beat the Stags 5-0 in the Philippines on March 7 and won 4-2 at Jalan Besar on May 3.
Noted Aidil: "Global play more direct football, whereas Ceres play a more passing game.
"They're two different teams with different styles, so we will have to plan and prepare differently.
"Ceres are a very technically good team, and their No. 9 (Spanish striker Fernando) is a very clinical finisher."
If Home get past Ceres, they will move on to the AFC Cup's inter-zone play-off semi-finals, where they will meet Tajikistan side Istiklol.
The two-legged tie is scheduled on Aug 22 and Sept 12, with Istiklol hosting the first leg.
The winners of that match will proceed to the inter-zone final, where they will play either North Korean side April 25 or India's Bengaluru.
The winners of the inter-zone final will then enter the AFC Cup grand final, where they will play either Iraq's Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya or Syria's Al-Wahda.