| Fadhil Yunus |
DPMM FC’s future opponents Home United FC bowed out of the AFC Cup just days before the pair’s highly-anticipated Singapore Cup quarter-final first leg clash at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore on Sunday.
The 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S League title contenders were protecting a 2-1 first-leg win against Ceres-Negros in the Asean zonal final but the Filipino side completed a comeback after sealing a 2-0 win at the Panaad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City.
The Singaporean side missed out on a place in the AFC inter zone semi-finals as their bid for a rare quadruple became a double in a matter of weeks.
The Protectors crashed out of the Singapore League Cup in the group stages but are in the quarterfinal draw in the Singapore Cup and are 10 points adrift of league leaders Albirex Niigata (S) with two games in hand.
DPMM FC will have fresh memories of their next opponents’ conquerors whom coincidentally they had a similar two-legged battle with at the same stage of the Singapore Cup last year.
The 2016 United Football League (UFL) runners-up took a 3-0 first-leg lead against the then-S League winners before completing a 6-2 aggregate win.
Aidil Sharin’s men, who still have a chance to close the gap on Albirex in the league to four points, were responsible in DPMM FC’s largest defeats under the guidance of head coach Steve Kean which culminated in the 9-3 loss last May.
However, Kean and his charges could pile further misery to a Home United side eager to bounce back from missing out on entering the last four of a continental competition.
The visiting side were stunned in the second minute after Ceres midfielder Jose Porteria fired home to put the Filipino side ahead on the away goals rule.
The dominant Ceres pulled further ahead after Manuel Ott executed a perfect free kick as they held firm to go through despite the Singaporean side coming agonisingly close after Stipe Plazibat rattled the woodwork.
Ceres Negros will now travel to Dunshabe and have a two-legged tie against 2015 AFC Cup runners-up FC Istiklol to negotiate with as they pursue to create further history as a Filipino side being represented in a major cup final.