Home United fail to reach AFC Cup zone final

Home United training for the AFC Cup game against Ceres-Negros.
Home United training for the AFC Cup game against Ceres-Negros.PHOTO: HOME UNITED

Home United failed to reach the AFC Cup semi-finals for the second time in club history, as Philippine side Ceres-Negros overturned a 2-1 first-leg deficit last night, winning the second leg 2-0 in Bacolod City to clinch the Asean zone final 3-2 on aggregate.

The result meant Ceres advanced into the AFC Cup inter-zonal play-off semi-finals to face 2012 winners FC Istiklol from Tajikistan, while Home missed out on their first semi-final appearance since 2004.

Ceres came flying out of the blocks last night, with attacking midfielder Jose Porteria scoring less than two minutes in to cancel out Home's first-leg advantage.

They would continue to dictate proceedings in the first half, with Spanish forward Fernando Rodriguez missing from the spot in the 12th minute, after a handball by defender Abdil Qaiyyim.

Home's Hassan Sunny was easily the busier of the two goalkeepers as he was forced into several good saves, including a smart stop to deny Rodriguez again after he broke clear of Home's offside trap.

The killer blow for Home came just before half time, with an outstanding free-kick by Manuel Ott sailing into the top-right corner of Hassan's goal.

In the second half, Home poured forward in search of the equaliser, but to no avail as Ceres were content to sit back, successfully protecting their aggregate lead.

Chua Zikai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2017, with the headline 'Home falter in AFC Cup zone final'. Print Edition | Subscribe