On Tuesday, Ceres-La Salle FC will mark their historic first-step in the AFC Cup with a playoff game against the Maldives’ Maziya S&RC. If they win against the home side, It will assure them of more AFC Cup games in the group stages. Here’s a quick look at their playoff opponents.
Maziya Sports and Recreation Club is a Football Club for the Maldivian top flight, Dhivehi Premier League. The Club was formed in 1996 and was promoted to the first division in 2006. With their players known as The Green Boys, this club has qualified for this playoff game as winners of the Maldives FA Cup in 2014.
Last year, Maziya placed second in the Premier League, with the eventual winners in New Radiant qualifying directly to the Group stages. New Radiant SC won the league with a seven-point cushion but Maziya finished stronger by tying the eventual champs in the last league game together with their cup victory.
In the last AFC Cup, Maziya was winless but played good stretches against the bigger South East Asian Teams. Arema of Indonesia needed injury time to beat Maziya 3-2 in Jakarta. The Indonesian team led by former Indonesian Captain Christian Gonzales showed their true quality by dominating and getting a 3-1 result in the return leg in Male.
In Bukit Jalil, Maziya scored opening goal to the dismay of the Selangor faithful but the Malaysian club recovered to finish with a 4-1 win. Maziya also showed their true form against Vietnam’s SHB Na Danang. The Maldivian side scored two quality goals but conceded three in the end.
Players to watch
Assadhulla Abdulla – this 24-year old striker is the Club Captain and was the top scorer of the Dhivehi Premier League. He is arguably the best local player for the Maziya Squad
Pedro Rodriguez – the spanish national is a former player of KAYA FC and is known to have good finishing skills and aerial excellence. He scored in almost all of KAYA FCs games last year.
Zhivko Dinev – a bulgarian center back who was once part of the Bulgarian national youth sides.
Toshiya Hosoe – the clubs AFC player is a former KAYA FC midfielder who is pretty reliable on the field
Silas Dos Santos Junior – not much is known from this Brazilian player but it is assumed that a striker from Brazil should always be treated
Just recently, Maziya featured in the final of the 2015 Peoples Cup, a short international club tournament that was held in the Maldives. Malaysia’s super league team PDRM FA (Royal Police) beat Maziya by 5-4 in what was labelled as thrilling final match in National Football Stadium. Regulation time yielded a 3-3 scoreline after a Maziya fightback but the team fell short in extra time after losing a man through a second yellow.
PDRM or the Royal Malaysian Football Club features Malaysian Internationals such as Muslim Ahmad and Afif Amiruddin and Maldivian superstar Ali Ashfaq. The tournament also featured Singapore’s Lions XII and New Radiant SC who were 3rd and 4th place respectively.
Based on the results of their preseason tournament loaded with tough clubs, we can fairly assume that Ceres is playing a seasoned and quality side in the playoff. Having the quality to match up against bigger Malaysian clubs shows that this team is no pushover and Ceres must come out with a lot of urgency in order to get a result.