Philippine Champions Ceres-Negros FC opens their 2019 season when they host Myanmar Champions Yangon United in the Preliminary Stage clash of the AFC Champions League on February 5 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
The two squads will rekindle their rivalry after meeting for the first time last year in the semis of the ASEAN Zone of the AFC Cup.
Both teams figured in a very entertaining semifinal in 2018 where the busmen edged the Myanmar powerhouse 6-5 in aggregate over two legs. This time however, the winner of the knockout match will progress into the next preliminary stage.
Yangon has maintained it core of foreign players in the likes of Seykou Sylla, Kosuke Yamazaki, but has added Brazilian Miller to compliment with Maug Maung Lwin. They have been very successful so far with four straight wins in the Myanmar National League.
Ceres meanwhile has retained its core of imports of Bienvenido Maranon and Super Herrera and strengthened its local players with the arrival of Angelo Marasigan, Dylan De Bruycker, and Dennis Villanueva.
The busmen are looking for nothing less than a win when they face Yangon and are keen to try and replicate what they achieved in the same tournament last season.
Ceres-Negros fought hard in their first ACL match last year where they edged Shan United in penalties before surprising Brisbane Roar with a defeat in Queensland. They are looking to do a lot better especially after falling to Tianjin in the last playoff match.
“For sure we’re ambitious,” said Ceres-Negros FC Coach Risto Vidakovic who’s leading the team for the third straight year. “We still have a lot of things to do and I think the players are motivated to repeat what they did before,” he added.
“Its very difficult to qualify for the (AFC) Champions League, especially for the group stage but we are going to compete. We are going to give everything we have to qualify,” said the Ceres mentor.
The match will be seen live in the Philippines via the 5PLUS Channel (formerly Aksyon TV) which can be found on Free TV Ch. 41, Cignal Ch. 15, Sky Ch. 59, and TV Plus Ch. 30). The match will also be streamed live at the ESPN5.com (Philippines only).
Ceres-Negros is expecting a good crowd on Tuesday as the day was declared a national holiday due to the lunar new year. Festivities will start at 7PM Philippine time in the historic stadium.