Home United go into the second leg of their AFC Cup qualifying playoff against Phnom Penh Crown at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday holding a slender lead, but are refusing to count their chickens.
An entertaining 4-3 away win in last week’s first leg means Home are in the driving seat, but the Protector’s coach Aidil Sharin insists he has drilled his squad about the dangers of complacency.
“I like to think that only one half [the first] has been played,” he said. “We still have the second half, and I still regard the score as 0-0.”
Still, Sharin said Home were not going to try and protect their lead: “We’re not going to sit back and just defend – we’ll still play our normal game, we want to play good football too since it’s our home game and the boys are ready for it.”
Home were 3-1 and 4-2 up during the first leg only to be pegged back by Crown, and Croatian striker Stipe Plazibat warned that Home needed to improve on their defensive showing from last week.
“Of course, it’s nice to have scored four away goals but we also conceded three,” said Plazibat.
“We cannot talk about how confident we are in our offense without thinking about the defence,” he added.
Crown’s fightback was inspired by South African forward and skipper Shane Booysen, who set up two goals before scoring the third deep into injury time to give the Cambodians some hope.
“We have a lot of respect for Home United and their players but, at the end of the day, we have to put that respect aside and the better team needs to win,” said Booysen.
“No matter what people are saying about our young team, we want to prove that we are capable of bringing the result back home.”
— Phnom Penh Crown FC (@PhnomPenhCrown) February 6, 2017
That sentiment was echoed by coach Sam Schweingruber: “I thought we expected Home United to be stronger than they were. We believe we have a chance in the match tomorrow.”
The winners of the playoff go into Group H alongside Yadanarbon of Myanmar and Vietnam’s Than Quang Ninh.
In other action, India’s Mohun Bagan go into their second leg against Colombo FC of Sri Lanka holding a 2-1 advantage following a win in last week’s first leg match in Colombo.