by Jonas Terrado
Ceres-Negros’ bid to qualify for the AFC Champions League came to an early end Tuesday after falling 2-1 to Myanmar’s Yangon United in the first preliminary stage held at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
Substitute Kaung Htet Soe’s goal near the hour mark turned out to be the difference maker as Yangon advanced to the next phase while spoiling Ceres’ first-ever Champions League match at home.
The loss relegated Ceres to the second-tier AFC Cup where the domestic winner is already bracketed in Group G.
Ceres will be joined by Vietnam’s Becamex Binh Duong, Indonesia’s Persija Jakarta, and Myanmar’s Shan United.
Stephan Schrock’s goal in the 44th for Ceres canceled Vinicius Miller’s opener off a free kick five minutes earlier, but chances were begging for the Busmen the rest of the way.
OJ Porteria and Spanish striker Bienvenido Maranon, who came on as a substitute, missed potential equalizers in the final half-hour.
Ceres’ quest to become the first Filipino club to qualify for the prestigious Champions League ended quickly after falling one win short of advancing in last year’s edition.