Risto Vidakovic: I’m proud of my players. They fought ’til the end

Coach Risto Vidakovic Ceres Negros

Head Coach Risto Vidakovic can only tip his hat to his team’s rivals as Ceres-Negros FC bowed out of the AFC Cup competition against Home United last Wednesday, relinquishing their mastery of the ASEAN Zone, after a 2-0 defeat against the hosts in Jalan Besar Stadium.

As the Bacolod-based outfit’s mentor spoke to the media moments after the final whistle, Vidakovic congratulated the hosts for a well-executed performance against his wards, but the Serbian Coach also was proud of his team in the way they played.

“As expected, it was a very tough game. I said before the game, really small details will decide the (winner of the tie). After (Home United’s) goal from a corner kick, we started to play a bit more risky, obviously it was very dangerous in this kind of field, and then they scored the second goal.

“I want to congratulate Home United, they deserve the win. I wish them all the best in the future, in the next round,” added Coach Risto.

Although many excuses can be raised in the forgetful performance of the Visayan club in the Lion City like the fewer player options with several key players who were absent, a major factor for such a lacklustre output particularly up front is the absence of Spanish striker Bienvenido Maranon’s cunning and killer instinct especially in the regional campaign who was slapped with a two game suspension from the previous leg against Yangon United due to unsportsmanlike behaviour.

“Maybe we came a little bit short with players in this game… maybe we became a little bit tired. But I’m happy with all the (year’s efforts). I’m proud of my players. They fought until the end. Sometimes you just have to shake the hands of your opponents and say ‘You played better’.”

In closing, Risto Vidakovic stated that he is looking for ample time of recovery for his squad in preparation for the next season, particularly on the dates when the AFC Champions League qualifications kick in early next year.

It is to note that despite not being able to successfully defend their AFC Cup ASEAN Zone title, Ceres Negros season can still be considered a good one overall as they have just finished their domestic league campaign as champions with three games to spare which, in turn, made them eligible for next season’s AFC Champions League playoffs.