5:30 p.m. – Shan United vs Ceres
Ceres-Negros begins the arduous task of securing qualification to the AFC Champions League today when its battles Burmese side Shan United in the tournament’s preliminary stage at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
The Philippines Football League champion must win three qualifying matches beginning with the 5:30 p.m. Manila time tussle with the Myanmar National League titlist to become the first PH team to reach Asia’s premier club competition.
Major moves were made by Ceres in the offseason by signing former Global defender Amani Aguinaldo and ex-JPV-Marikina stars Takumi Uesato and Patrick Kane, national team midfielder Mike Ott and former Real Betis and Napoli goalkeeper Toni Doblas.
Their signings were made to offset the departures of Iain Ramsay, the hero of Ceres’ PFL final victory over Global, Roland Muller, Fernando Rodriguez and Luke Woodland.
Returning for another tour of duty for Ceres are Spanish striker Bienvenido Maranon, Stephan Schrock, Omid Nazari, Junior Munoz, Kevin Ingreso, OJ Porteria and Super Herrera.
A victory would propel Ceres to the second phase of the qualifiers against Aussie side Brisbane Roar next week in Brisbane. Should they also pull off a massive upset, the Busmen would take on Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian for a spot in the Champions League.
But a loss today or in the aforementioned qualifying matches relegates Ceres to the AFC Cup where it will be bracketed in Group F with Shan United, Singapore’s Home United and Cambodia’s Boeungket Angkor.