Singapore, Malaysian, and Philippine clubs wrapped up the AFC Cup group stage on Wednesday with several teams qualifying for the knockout stage.
We take a look at how they did and grade their performances.
(4-2 win against Tampines)
Ceres got off to a strong start in Singapore with two early goals thanks to some charitable defending from the hosts and never looked back.
With a penalty and red card giving them a two-goal and one-man advantage at the break, Ceres were coasting, but allowed Tampines back into the game with a needless penalty. Luckily, they were able to restore the two-goal lead within minutes and then hold on for what in the end was a comfortable win.
VERDICT: B+ Ceres looked dangerous going forward throughout the match, but coach Risto Vidakovic will need to tighten up his defence for the knockout stages and cut out the silly individual mistakes that almost let Tampines back into the game.
(4-2 loss against Ceres)
Tampines’ AFC Cup defensive frailties came back to haunt them as a string of early mistakes left them with too much to do. Shakir Hamzah’s rash challenge and red card effectively sealed their fate with only 30 minutes gone.
They fought valiantly after the break, but the extra man meant that Ceres always had that bit in reserve as the visitors held on without too many problems to dump the Stags out of the competition.
VERDICT: D The Stags only have themselves to blame after giving away three goals through poor defensive work and individual errors, but that has been a feature of their AFC Cup campaign. Jurgen Raab will have to look long and hard at his defence and decide whether it needs some strengthening after conceding a whopping 17 goals in six matches.
(3-1 win against Beoungket Angkor)
Global needed a win to secure passage to the knockout stages and it never looked in doubt after Paul Mulders gave the hosts an early lead. Hikaru Minegishi doubled the lead as Toshiaki Imai’s side took full control of the tie and looked very comfortable.
There were a few nervy moments for Global after Seth Rosib pulled a goal back for Beoungket from a dead ball just after the break, before Darryl Roberts wrapped up the win with a killer goal deep into injury time.
VERDICT: B+ Global always had too much for the visitors and were in control for most of the match. Imai will hope that his side can take their excellent group form (five wins from six) into the zonal semi-finals where they will face a tougher challenge.
(3-1 win against Magwe)
JDT recovered from a sluggish start that saw the visitors take a shock third-minute lead to claim a win – although the scoreline suggests the game was more comfortable than it actually was. The visitors were unlucky not to go into the break ahead after Magwe forward Cho Tun missed two very good chances, the second an incredible open-goal miss after he got the better of some static JDT defending.
The Southern Tigers were much improved but still not at their best in the second half, but they had enough quality to shut out the visitors and seal their progression as the best runners up as improving forward Gabriel Guerra completed a hat-trick.
VERDICT: C+ Coach Benjamin Mora will be relieved that his constant chopping and changing during the group stage did not result in the 2015 champions missing out, but he will need to settle on his best 11 quickly ahead of the zonal semi-finals as Ceres Negros will present a much tougher challenge.
(4-1 loss against Hanoi)
Felda United were never in the game as Hanoi pushed forward from the start looking for the three points they needed to boost their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages.
The Malaysian side were lucky to be just one down at halftime, before Hanoi’s pressure eventually told with a flurry of late goals in what was a match too far for B. Sathianathan’s men.
VERDICT: D A poor showing from Felda, who did not have the strength to deal with a Hanoi side in desperate need of the win. A disappointing end to an AFC Cup campaign that showed promise at one point before falling away horribly at the end.