Singaporean side crowned AFC Cup ASEAN champions
Home United ensured they would enjoy a perfect National Day in Singapore after Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over Ceres Negros in the AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal final at Jalan Besar Stadium saw the hosts progress 3-1 on aggregate.
The sides featured a number of national team players from the two countries, who will face off in Group B of the AFF Suzuki Cup later this year, and it was the Singaporeans who came out on top after second-half goals from Shakir Hamzah and Song Ui-young sealed the victory.
In ousting Ceres, Aidil Sharin’s team also gained sweet revenge for defeat at the same stage last year, when the Filipino team progressed to the Inter-Zone semi-finals. This year, however, it is Home United who were crowned ASEAN club kings
After the sides had played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg last week, Ceres had a number of chances in the opening 45 minutes with Philippines internationals Carli de Murga and Patrick Reichelt both coming close to claiming a vital away goal after being teed up by Stephan Schrock.
Ceres came even closer to breaking the deadlock midway through the first half when Spanish defender Super’s diving header came back off the crossbar.
But the Filipino side went into the interval on a sour note after Reichelt was stretchered off following a nasty collision with Home United goalkeeper Rudy Khairullah.
The hosts put in a much stronger display after the restart and Hamzah beat goalkeeper Toni Doblas to the ball to get on the end of Izzdin Shafiq’s corner from the left just after the hour to head home from close range, much to the delight of the home support.
And the visitors were left with a mountain to climb 12 minutes later when Song found himself in acres of space in the penalty area to angle a neat header past Doblas and round off the scoring following Faritz Abdul Hameed’s delivery from the right.
The Korea Republic attacking midfielder, who missed the first leg, has now scored in seven successive AFC Cup matches as the 24-year-old took his tally to eight, just two behind the tournament’s top scorers Bienvenido Maranon of Ceres and Yangon United’s Sekou Sylla, both of whom have been eliminated.
Next up for Home United is a date with DPR Korea’s 4.25 SC in the first leg of the Inter-Zone semi-finals in two weeks’ time as the Singaporean side get set to mark their best performance in the tournament since reaching the semi-finals in the inaugural edition in 2004.
Photos: Lagardere Sports