3:30 p.m. – Tianjin vs Ceres
Ceres-Negros edged closer towards making history after advancing to the final stage of the AFC Champions League qualifiers with a stunning 3-2 victory over Brisbane Roar Tuesday night at the QSAC Stadium in Brisbane, Australia.
The Busmen battled back from an early deficit courtesy of a brace from Spanish striker Bienvenido Maranon and one from Fil-Iranian Omid Nazari before holding off the Roar’s late bid to force extra time to complete the stunning upset.
Ceres players and coaches celebrated one of the biggest international victories in club history, needing to pull off the biggest one yet on Tuesday when it travels to Tianjin, China to take on Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian for a spot in Asia’s premier club competition.
No Filipino club has ever reached the Champions League.
“I’m really proud of my players, especially because we are still not prepared for these kind of games,” said Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic, as quoted by the club’s official website. “You can see in the last 15-20 minutes that the intensity went down. I’m really proud of them. They played ninety minutes, they fought, and I think we deserve to win.”
Vidakovic and the rest of the Busmen will have their work cut out next week against a Tianjin side powered by former AC Milan forward Alexandre Pato and Belgian international Axel Witsel.
A loss to Tianjin relegates Ceres to the second-tier AFC Cup where it is assured of a place in Group F along with Singapore’s Home United, Myanmar’s Shan United and Cambodia’s Boeungket Angkor.