Ahead of Home United’s AFC Cup zonal-final first leg with Ceres Negros at Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday, the Singaporean side have made it clear that they will be looking to Stipe Plazibat to fire them into the next phase of the competition.
Plazibat is just 27-years-old, but despite this the Croatian will shoulder a lot of responsibility for Home United in the first leg of the AFC Cup tie with Ceres.
The level of expectation placed on the striker is more a reflection of his talent than his experience.
According to FlashScore.com, Plazibat has scored a mammoth 18 goals in Home United’s first 14 league encounters this season. That is almost 1.3 goals per game!
On the continent his form has been similarly impressive. He scored four goals in the group stages of the AFC Cup (all four coming in one game away to Vietnam’s Than Quang Ninh) and then added a further three in the zonal semi-final ties with Global.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s game, Home United’s head coach Aidil Sharin said he was after more of the same from his prodigious finisher.
“I think it’s part of history, he scores goals everywhere,” Sharin stated.
“But, we hope he can deliver again. He has a good feeling at the Jalan Besar stadium, too.
“For example, when we played Global Cebu, everyone was speaking about his record in the tournament, and then he scored again.
“Let’s see if he can do it again.
“It’s the motivation of everyone at the club to go to the final and I believe maybe he has a little more motivation because this is a special tournament for him and the team.
“Also because he has never played in this final during such an amazing career he’s had.”
Plazibat will be hoping that captain, Hassan Sunny, keeps the players around him composed and provides a calming influence from the goalmouth.
Standing in Sunny, Plazibat and Home United’s way are a determined Ceres side who were one of the success stories of the group stages, advancing to the first knockout round as the tournament’s joint-leading scorers.
One of their most hard-working players is Iain Ramsey and the midfielder is confident that his team’s attacking prowess can match or even better that of Home United.
“[Home] are a very attack-minded team so it’ll definitely be a tough game, but we’re confident in our playing group and what we can do and I think we’ve done remarkably well, which gives us confidence going into this game,” he said.
“We’re a compact team but when we go forward, we have individuals who click together nicely, especially in the attacking third, and you’ve seen so far that we’ve scored a number of goals.”
Ramsay will be looking to wreak havoc in the middle of the park alongside his skipper, Martin Steuble, who has plenty of big match experience.
The first leg is shaping up to be an absolute cracker. The action kicks off at 19:30 (HKT).