Ceres Negros FC looks to keep their run in the 2019 AFC Cup alive when they collide with Vietnamese side Hanoi FC in the first leg of the ASEAN Zonal semifinals on Tuesday at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.
It will be a contest between two of the most prolific goal-scoring clubs in the competition this year, so we can expect an explosive affair.
Let's take a look at some of the factors that could play a part in their semi-final meeting.
Goals, goals, goals
Goals should not be in short supply given the track records of these clubs in the group stages. Hanoi FC has a tournament-best 23 goals, while Ceres Negros is fourth on the list with 15 goals.
The AFC Cup's top goal getters are also in this matchup, with Ceres' Bienvenido Marañon and Hanoi's Ganiyu Oseni lighting up the scoreboards with nine goals each in the AFC Cup.
In fact, it was the goal difference that allowed Hanoi to finish at the summit Group F. The Vietnamese club registered a difference of +18 to pip Singaporean team Sampines Rovers FC, who were level in points, to the top their group.
But Marañon pointed out in an interview with the AFC website, that Hanoi have more goals because their group was more difficult than that of the Busmen. Which in turn, Marañon believes, could be the reason why Oseni has racked up the goals for his club as well.
"I do feel that Hanoi FC have come through a less difficult group and so their striker has had more and easier opportunities to score," Marañon said. "I value my goals a lot as they were scored in the toughest group in the competition."
Getting goals haven't been a problem for both teams, but who will score the crucial ones in the semi-finals?
Keeping it clean
While these two clubs have been bursting their opponent's nets with goals, both of them have had a difficult time securing clean sheets in the competition so far. Both clubs have only managed to get two clean sheets each after their respective six games in the group stage.
Hanoi and the Busmen have only conceded five and six goals in the tournament, respectively, but have not shown the steely concentration needed to shut out their opponents on a consistent basis.
It will be a meeting between the two clubs that are high-flying goal scorers, but don't be shocked if it is heroic backline action that proves to be the difference maker in the semi-finals.
Coming in hot
Hanoi FC head into the knockout stage off a three-game winning streak in the tournament. The Vietnam club had to find a way to stay perfect in order to avoid dropping to second place in their group.
Ceres, on the other hand, lost its penultimate game in the group stage against Becamex Binh Duong.
Though there were some factors that could have contributed to that loss. Ceres had already qualified with a game to spare, while Becamex needed to secure a win to have hopes of progressing to the knockout stage.
Becamex got the win, and forced their way into the next round.
Though Hanoi has streaked their way into the semi-finals, don't be surprised if the form book doesn't matter when these two meet.