Home United hoping to finish the job against Ceres
Protectors hope to be first Singapore side to win AFC Cup Asean zone final on eve of National Day
With National Day a day ahead, Home United coach Aidil Sharin is hoping to give Singaporeans an early cause for celebration by being the first local team to win the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup Asean zone final.
Tonight, his side take on Philippine outfit Ceres Negros in the second leg at Jalan Besar Stadium.
The Protectors, who lost 3-2 on aggregate to the same opponents at the same stage last year, have an away-goal advantage following their 1-1 draw in Bacolod last week.
|HOME UNITED||CERES NEGROS|
At the pre-match press conference at Copthorne King's Hotel yesterday, Aidil said: "With National Day coming up, everyone has spoken about giving Singapore an early birthday present, so that will make us stronger and give us more belief."
Home will be boosted by the return of South Korean forward Song Ui Young, who made the trip to Bacolod but did not feature amid fitness concerns.
With new addition Isaka Cernak settling in well and midfielder Fazli Ayob also returning, Aidil believes that he will have a strong line-up tonight.
He said: "It's nice to see everyone back and tomorrow is the game where I will have my best XI. From the first game until now, I haven't had my best XI, so I hope Song will be good and he'll help the team."
Despite having additional firepower, Aidil's charges will be looking to keep a tidy backline with Ceres striker Blake Powell enjoying a run of form.
The Australian, 27, was signed last month to cover for suspended striker and competition joint-top scorer Bienvenido Maranon. He has struck three goals in as many appearances since his arrival, including last week's opener.
But Aidil insisted that the team would not preoccupy themselves with any single player, saying: "Ceres are not only about one player.
"With a team like Ceres, you have to look at the rest so we can't just look at Powell; that's not the way we defend and that's not the way we play.
"We can't just look at one player in the game. We have to defend against all 11 players."
The matches between the two sides have traditionally been close affairs, with their last five meetings yielding an average of just 2.2 goals per game.
Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic believes tonight's game will be no different, saying: "We know each other very well. There are no secrets between us and small things will decide the final.
"We can talk about what will happen tomorrow, but nobody knows: maybe small things can decide the game, something like a foul or a corner-kick.
"For sure we will try to get possession and try to attack because we need to win, we need to score because we have a disadvantage."
The Protectors have won just once in their last four home fixtures, but Aidil insisted his team would play for a win, saying: "We can't think just because we have an away goal that we have an advantage.
"In football, we start with a 0-0 scoreline and we'll go for a win not a draw."
The game will kick off at 7.30pm at the Jalan Besar Stadium.