|FROM JALAN BESAR STADIUM
By Khalis Rifhan
Semen Padang of Indonesia confirmed their spot at the top of Group E and qualified for the Round of 16 in their debut season in the AFC Cup after their convincing 2-0 win over Warriors FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday.
Padang is currently on 10 points in the group, four points ahead of Hong Kong side Kitchee SC, who also sealed their spot in the next round after a 4-0 hammering of Churchill Brothers on the same day at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune.
Despite surprising many with their performances and results in the group stage, coach Jafri Sastra played it coy and said that he had always believed in his players.
“We played our usual game and remained focused, so we are not surprised at the position we are in right now," he said.
"We have prepared ourselves to not only enter this competition but also to progress as group winners.
“I agree that we started slow in the match, especially the first 10 minutes of the game, and we are grateful to the organizer for allowing us to train in this pitch twice before the match.
“We had lots of chances in the first half but we hit the post a few times and their goalkeeper made several good saves, but we continued with our game plan and we went on to win the match.”
Jafri also touched on his team's possible opponents in the next round, which will be either SHB Da Nang of Vietnam or defending champions of the Malaysia Super League, Kelantan FA.
“Our team is always ready from the start and whoever we will face is not a problem for us," he declared.
"We will start to prepare aggressively for the last 16 after our last group match in Padang."
Semen Padang will next face Churchill on May 1 while Warriors will be travelling to Hong Kong to face the group runners up, Kitchee.