BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
After a credible draw against Hanoi FC in the previous round of AFC Cup group matches, Felda United will face a tougher tie when they play against Ceres Negros FC on Wednesday. Ceres hammered Tampines Rovers in their last match and is likely to present the same attacking threat against The Fighters.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, coach B. Sathianathan was effusive in his praise for his opponent and went about to portray Ceres as the favourites ahead of the match.
"Philippines football are improving on the whole, thanks to teams like Ceres. We have good respect for them especially after they beat Singapore's Tampines Rovers 5-0. We are glad to be here but not glad to play against a team that is very strong," said Sathianathan.
Since Sathianathan took over from Azmi Mohamed, Felda has remained unbeaten in the four matches that they've played but has only registered one win in that run. He understands the requirement at the clubs but underlines the points that has not made Felda a success that they were last season, at least not yet.
"I took over only less than a month. It's a very difficult period for the club who has high hopes this season because we're the runners-up in the league last season and we're suppose to be a better team than last year but we failed to keep our stars from last season."
"But no excuses, we'll give respect to Ceres because of their performance. My colleague from Spain has done a good job with his players. I think a draw would be a good bonus for us because this is our first time in the AFC Cup," added Sathianathan.
A point against Ceres would only take Felda up to two points in the group and still bottom of Group G. However, with two remaining home matches to be played, Felda still have every opportunity to recover and qualify from the group when the return fixtures take place.
Sathianathan was in jovial mode throughout the press conference and even said in jest his match tactics.
"When we lose the ball we defend. When we get the ball, we attack."