Ceres – La Salle FC started their campaign for the 2016 AFC Cup trophy with a 2-2 draw against the visiting Selangor FA from Malaysia last night before an estimated crowd of 8,000 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
Coming out strong and aggressive in the first 10 minutes of the match, home team Ceres – La Salle dictated the tempo with Filipino-German Stephan Schrock establishing his presence in the middle while attempting shots on goal.
Schrock's 18 th minute strike that defied Selangor's defense had the crowd roaring.
But with its decades of football history, Selangor could not be easily thwarted. Focused and committed, Mauro Olivi booted in the equalizer in the 34 th minute as he blocked Ceres' goalkeeper Mike Casas clearance and sent the ball rolling into the net.
“It was an individual error. But this is football and everybody commit mistakes,” Ceres head coach Franklin Muescan said during the post-match press conference.
More important he said was the way the home team bounced back to salvage a draw.
The blunder distracted and slowed down Ceres' offense as the score was tied 1-all at halftime.
Finding their rhythm in the second half, Selangor found themselves ahead in the 60 th minute as Hafiz Kamal converted a penalty by sending it over the wall and sailing past Casas' outstretched hands.
With the time running out, Ceres remained on the hunt for its second goal. A pass from Schrock to Manny Ott in the 77 th minute had the crowd on their feet but the shot was wide, while a cross from Patrick Reichelt to Bienvi Marañon in the 79 th was saved by Selangor keeper Norazlan Bin Razali.
With three minutes left in regulation, Schrock's cross from the left found Adrian Gallardo who completed the play with a header for a 2-2 draw.
With both teams getting a point each for the draw, Selangor head coach Zainal Abidin Bin Hassan said it was good enough for them.
“We missed our target of getting 3 points but it was a tough match. Ceres is a very good team and they keep on playing good football. It was a good game for both teams,” Hassan said.
For Ceres, coach Muescan said addjustments will have to be made in time for their away games on March 8 in Bangladesh and March 15 in Singapore.
The Negros-based team will have its second home game in the Group E Qualifier on April 12 against Singapore on April 12 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium and back to Panaad on May 10 against Bangladesh.*NAB