Stallion, Cebu hope losing AFC Cup debuts serve good purpose
MANILA, Philippines–Stallion-Laguna and Dynamic Herb Cebu are hoping that rough experience of their continental debuts will help them a great deal in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup.
The two Philippines Football League clubs both lost to respective teams from Southeast Asia this week, with Stallion succumbing 5-2 to Indonesia’s Bali United at Binan Football Stadium and Cebu getting blanked 3-0 by Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Crown at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
“I’m happy with the performance,” said Cebu coach Joshua Schirmer. “Some of the players have never played at this level before, and now they see what this is all about.
“Some raised their games and some need to learn to raise their game even higher for the next games because we don’t expect the opposition to get any weaker,” added the American coach.
Cebu kept the game scoreless until the 42nd minute when Phnom Penh capitalized on an aerial situation, prompting Shintaro Shimizu to score a header. The visitors tacked on two more in the second half, much to the disappointment of the Central Visayas outfit on Thursday.
The previous day in Laguna saw Stallion drawing level at 1-1 on a goal from Junior Sam, but injuries among his defensive players coupled with three straight goals from Bali eventually led to the lopsided affair.
“Why we want to forget something historic?” said Stallion coach Ernie Nierras, whose club is also in its maiden foray in an Asian club competition. “It was unexpected [to play in the AFC Cup] and you saw that we were fighting.”
Stallion had a chance to tie the game at 2-2 before the break, but Finn McDaniel’s attempt from the spot was saved by Bali keeper Maringa.
It came minutes after Stallion goalie Hayeson Pepito stopped a Bali penalty that prevented the away side from taking a 3-1 lead.
“Had we scored that [penalty], it would have been a new game and it would have been different in the second half,” said Nierras.
Stallion and Cebu resume their AFC Cup campaign in the first week of October when they visit their Australian foes Central Coast Mariners and MacArthur FC, respectively.
But first off, Stallion will resume its domestic duties when it wraps up its group stage stint in the Copa Paulino Alcantara on Saturday against Adamson at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
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Cebu, meanwhile, won’t be playing until next week when the Copa starts its two-leg quarterfinals.