BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
After a three weeks break, Felda United returns to action when they take on Ceres-Negros FC of the Philippines in an AFC Cup match on Tuesday evening at Shah Alam Stadium. The two teams ha to settle for a scoreless draw in the reverse fixture played at Pannad Stadium last month.
In the pre-match conference held on Monday afternoon, B. Sathianthan the head coach of Felda was adamant that the match represents the best chance for his team to move upwards in the table and point to it possibly being a catalyst for their season ahead.
"This is our chance if we can win, we can move up in the table. But more importantly, it'll give the team greater confidence going forward in the AFC Cup as well as the Super League," said Sathianathan.
With an important Super League tie against Penang on Sunday, there were suggestion that Sathianathan could be saving players for the domestic league but the 58-year-old coach was having none on that and insisted that his motivation is spurred by results elsewhere.
"Except for Shukor [Adan] who is injured and Luca [Cano] who is suspended, we'll field a strong team. Our focus is to win because our pride is at stake. When we see JDT close to qualifying, that's what we want to do also," added Sathianathan.
Having only scored two goals in their three AFC Cup matches thus far, Sathianathan is well aware of the problems surrouding his team - the goals or rather the lack of it. Only Zah Rahan and Fazrul Hazli have registered their names on the scoring chart - a situation that Sathianathan admits have to improve.
"I hope we start scoring. That is our weakness right now. We had chances not only against Ceres but also against Hanoi but we missed those. In these few weeks of rest, we've worked on the finishing but what happens in training isn't similar to what happens in the match," explained Sathianthan.
On the other side of the field, Serbian Risto Vidakovic reckons that the match on Tuesday will be a difficult one for both side given the lack of match practice the two teams have had since they last took to the field in a competitive match.
"Of course. We always have to change something. It's a different game, it's a different stadium. We know each other much more. We played 3 weeks ago and neither of us have played since. It will be a very hard game for both teams," said Vidakovic.
The former Real Betis player currently has his Ceres side leading Group G but warns that the table can turn on its head over 90 minutes, given how close the teams are from top to bottom. Ceres are aiming to get their second win in the group before welcoming the visit of Hanoi FC in the next match of the competition.
"We will see [if Ceres can maintain top position]. All the teams are strong. We have champions from Vietnam and strong teams from Malaysia and Singapore. You can see from the table it's not big difference from first to last. One win and many things can change," added Vidakovic.
The Felda versus Ceres match kicks off on Tuesday 4:45pm.