Preview: Ceres v Sheikh Jamal

Filipino side Ceres FC face, already-eliminated, Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi of Bangladesh in a Group E match of the AFC Cup on Tuesday.

In the group, the 0-0 draw with Selangor of Malaysia last time out was enough to ensure that Ceres reached the last 16 stage, and a win over Sheikh Jamal will see them top the group.

In the other group match, Tampines Rovers welcome Selangor to Singapore in a match that will determine a last 16 spot, with a win putting either side through, while a draw will be enough for Selangor.

In February, Ceres kicked off their group stage campaign by drawing 2-2 with Selangor at home before going on to beat Sheikh Jamal 2-0. They then drew 1-1 at Tampines prior to winning the the return leg 2-1. Their most recent match on April 26 was a goalless draw at Selangor.

The man to watch out for in the Ceres side is Spanish forward Adrian Gallardo, who has scored five goals so far.

In domestic action in the United Football League, which has just kicked off the 2016 season, Ceres lost 3-2 at Loyola Meralco Sparks FC in their only game so far.

Ceres head coach Franklin Muescan told the Daily Star that his side would be out to get a win on Tuesday despite already reaching the last 16.

“We’re going to this game with the mindset that we want to finish the group stage on a positive note. We need to get more confidence and momentum for the knockout stage and we can do that with a good result tomorrow,” said Muescan.

“We want to have that winning feeling heading into the knockout stage. We have a big opportunity to show our home fans that we are the best team in our group and we want to capitalise on that opportunity.”

Sheikh Jamal started their campaign off badly by getting hammered 4-0 at Tampines and followed that up with a 2-0 loss at Ceres. Their losing streak continued when they were beaten 4-3 at home against Selangor and they went on to lose the return leg 2-1. In their last match, though, Sheikh Jamal shocked Tampines 3-2 in Dhaka.

The player to be aware of in the Sheikh Jamal side is Gambian midfielder Landing Darboe as he has scored four times in the AFC Cup.

In the Bangladesh Football Premier League, Sheikh Jamal were crowned the 2015 league champions but have not been playing any domestic football as the 2016 season is yet to begin.

In a chat with reporters, Sheikh Jamal coach Shafiqul Islam Manik said that even though his side have already been eliminated, they will be taking the match seriously.

“We are ready, we don’t know how Ceres prepared for us but we will do our best to give them a good fight,” said Manik. “Even if we’re eliminated from the group, it doesn’t mean that we will not take this game seriously. We want to finish the group with a strong game.”

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