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Kuala Lumpur: AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has congratulated Philippines’ Ceres Negros for emerging as the inaugural AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Champions after defeating Singapore’s Home United 3-2 on aggregate over two legs after Wednesday’s Zonal Final.

Shaikh Salman said: “On behalf of the AFC football family, I would like to congratulate Ceres Negros for claiming the ASEAN Zonal Champions crown.

“We must also congratulate our first three Zonal Champions – Central Champions FC Istiklol from Tajikistan, JSW Bengaluru FC from India in the South Zone and DPR Korea’s 4.25 SC who won the East Zone.

“With its new format, the second half of the competition promises to captivate our passionate fans once more as we look to crown the West Champions and ultimately, the 2017 AFC Cup winners in November. I wish all our teams the very best of luck.”

The Singapore side had taken a slim advantage heading into the second leg of the 2017 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Final after claiming a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Risto Vidakovic’s side at home a week ago.

Despite their valiant efforts, it was the Filipino side, however, who displayed their class, overturning the deficit with a 2-0 victory over Home United in the return leg at the Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City, Philippines on Wednesday.

With the Southeast Asian club crown firmly secured, Ceres Negros will now battle 2015 finalists and Central Zone Champions FC Istiklol from Tajikistan in the two-leg Inter-Zone semi-finals on August 22 and September 9.

Please click here for more details on the match and upcoming AFC Cup 2017 fixtures.