ACL2020: Ceres-Negros defies odds, makes history with win over Thai Port

Port Ceres-Negros AFC Champions League 2020

Ceres-Negros overcame the odds to beat Thai FA Cup Champions 1-0 last January 21 at the PAT Stadium in Bangkok. Stephan Schrock’s second half goal pushed the Busmen into the AFC Champions League Playoff Stage which put Filipino club a win away from making it into Asia’s richest club competition.

It was the home squad who took control in the early goings of the match but it was the visitors who had the better chances in the first half hour. Bienvenido Maranon found some space in the box to unleash the shot but Worawut Srisupa came up with a fine save to deny the opener.

The Port keeper was called into action again minutes later as he blocked Mike Ott’s point blank shot. The Thai squad had a long distance free kick from prized import Herberty Fernandes in the 31st but the Brazilian couldn’t find the target.

Port Ceres-Negros AFC Champions League 2020 odawra ott

The Filipino side threatened five minutes later when Robert Lopez Mendy found Maranon in the box. The Spaniard was tackled in the penalty are but no call was given by the referee. Bordin Phalla broke the trap just moments later but a nervy finish by the Thai player saw the ball go way off target.

Sergio Suarez outsmarted the the Busmen’s defense in the 42nd and broke though for a one-on-one but Rolland Muller came off his line and forced a corner. Port players and fans demanded a penalty call but the Chinese-Taipei referee was having none of it. Both teams finished the half scoreless.

Adjustments were made at halftime by Coach Risto Vidakovic after putting in Joshua Grommen in place of Super who had a nasty fall off a clearance just before the break.

The action picked up again after the break as Port pushed for an opener early in the second half. Heberty tried to make something out of a corner in the 47th but the star signing could only shoot wide. Schrock found Hikaru Minegishi on the wings but his final shot on the break went straight to the keeper.

A defensive miscue in the 50th minute allowed Lopez Mendy to break the port lines but Elias Dolah was quick to clear the ball for a corner.

Port Ceres-Negros AFC Champions League 2020 celebration

Schrock played the ball short to Ott who gave it back immediately before the Ceres-Negros Captain curled the ball into the goal which surprised the keeper who reacted late and allowed the opening goal in the 51st minute.

The Thai squad tried to fight back immediately but a deadly cross into the face of the Ceres goal was met by no one two minutes later. Ceres-Negros had a well worked counterattack in the 63rd but Ott shot wide.

Substitute Adisak Kraison came close to an equalizer three minutes later but his instinctive header went wide. A free kick from a dangerous area was awarded to the home squad but Heberty’s chance curled a yard off target. Sergio Suarez came close with the header in the 70th but he missed the target.

The action settled midway the second half with both teams making changes for the final push. Tanasith Sipala replaced the misfiring Bordin while Mark Harmann came in for Minegishi to reinforce the midfield.

Lopez Mendy mad a run in the 77th minute and crossed into a rushing Ott but the ball was too fast for the Ceres mid. Moments later, Tanasith had the best chance to equalize after the ball fell on his lap but Takashi Odawara’s goal line clearance stopped his well placed shot.

The central Bangkok side came up with a chance in the 84th with Siwakornn’s lone effort sailed wide. Angelo Marasigan came in for Dennis Villanueva as Ceres’ final substitution for the match. The Port Lions had twin chances near end of regulation but Suarez hit the side netting while Adisak strike in the box was blocked by a last-ditch tackle by Odawara.

Four minutes were added on as Port tried to extend the match while Ceres tried to hold on for the win. The Philippine squad came close to finishing the game with a 3-on-1 break but Schrocks final attempt was blocked by Worawut. Marasigan came close with a shot in the face of goal but his outside-the-foot attempt was controlled by the keeper.

The final whistle was blown moments later as the Ceres-Negros celebrated onto the pitch after clinching their second appearance in the Champions League Playoff. The win also marked the first meeting of Filipino and Thai Football clubs.

Port Ceres-Negros AFC Champions League 2020 villanueva lopez mendy

“It was a very tough game especially in the second half. After two weeks preparation, I think we we’re not ready but the boys gave everything in the game and fought until the end,” said Ceres-Negros Coach Risto Vidakovic.

“I congratulate them because they did a really really really did a good job. We were lucky a little bit, they (Port FC) missed a lot of chances. We also missed a couple of chances in the first half so this is football. Im proud of my boys and they did a really really good job,” he added.

The Philippine squad will face Japan’s #2 team in J1 in FC Tokyo at the Tokyo (Ajinomoto) Stadium on January 28 for a place in the AFC Champions League Group Stage. The match will be shown live over Fox Sports 2 at 6PM Philippine time.

All photos from Ceres-Negros FC/Sarayuth Klumtaworn