Home United Player Ratings: Plucky Protectors stun Ceres to make AFC Cup semis

Singapore Premier League representatives Home United produced a stunning 2-0 smash-and-grab victory at Panaad Park and Stadium against last season’s ASEAN zonal champions Ceres Negros to qualify for the AFC Cup zonal semi-finals as Group F winners.

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Johor Darul Ta’zim’s 3-2 win over Song Lam Nghe An on Tuesday meant Home just needed to avoid a defeat of five goals or more to qualify for the zonal semi-finals as the best second-placed team amongst the three ASEAN groups.

The Protectors did more than just that with a superb defensive display without defenders Shakir Hamzah, Faritz Hameed (injured) and Sirina Camara (suspended).

Ceres dominated large periods of the game and hit the bar early via a Omid Nazari free kick on eight minutes, but failed to put away their chances.

Home would make them pay with two late goals. First it was Izzdin Shafiq’s free kick on the edge of the box which sailed all the way past a stranded Ceres goalkeeper Toni Doblas on 80 minutes. Aidil Sharin’s men sealed the victory five minutes into injury time with Song Uiyoung converting from the spot after substitute Amiruldin Asraf was brought down in the area.

The Protectors will face Indonesia’s Persija Jakarta in the zonal semis next month.

Rudy Khairullah 9

Ceres tried and tried, but there was simply no way past this in-form Home custodian tonight. Dominated the area with his massive frame and made crucial saves when called upon. The best one was perhaps a superb reflex save to deny Sean Kane from point-blank range just before the break.

Fazli Ayob 7.5

Deployed as a makeshift right-back, Fazli looked like he played for ages in that position. Did well to curb his attacking instincts and managed to shut down those who came down his flank. Produced a superb block to deny a goal-bound Carli De Murga shot on the stroke of half time as well.

Shahrin Saberin 8

Still relatively untested at this level, but Shahrin showed no nerves with this assured performance. Read the game superbly to intercept a few balls that came his way and made an inch-perfect tackle to deny Maranon from going clean through in the first half.

Juma’at Jantan 8

Lining up as the central figure of a five-man defence, Juma’at’s experience was key as he guided the younger defenders around him superbly. Lived up to his nickname as ‘Crazy Horse’ as he put his body on the line on a few occasions and managed to last the whole 90 minutes despite getting himself hurt in the second half. 

Photo: Home United

Faizal Roslan 7.5

The young defender is learning well at this level with the guidance of Juma’at and shone by pushing up on a few occasions to snuff out the Ceres’ attackers. His hard-tackling style may have won him few friends, but helped earn his side the three points.

Aqhari Abdullah 7

Deployed in the unfamiliar role of left-back, Aqhari did not have the easiest of nights with many attacks coming down his flank. However he showed tenacity to cope with most one-on-one situations and can be proud of his display.

M. Anumanthan 7.5

An all-action display in the middle of the park for the robust player as he got stuck in frequently and stifled the threat of the Ceres’ midfielders in the process. The only blip was that his passes could have been more accurate - but that won't take the gloss off an excellent performance.

Izzdin Shafiq 7.5

The Protectors skipper had a tough job to do in midfield alongside Anumanthan and frequently tracked back to help the defence. Never stopped working though and his efforts were rewarded late on with a good free kick which sailed all the way in.