Ceres-Negros FC will open its first Philippines Football League home game against its arch-rivals Global Cebu FC on June 3 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod. It will be the first time the two most recent league champions meet in the new national league.
Both squads came into the tournament with retooled lineups with the home team getting splashier signings with the likes of Iain Ramsay, Luke Woodland, and Stephan Schrock. Global maintained its veteran core with Misagh Bahadoran leading the club with quality support from new signings in Wesley Dos Santos, Shu Sasaki, and Sekou Sylla.
Global had the upper hand in 2016 with two wins, a draw, and a loss in four of their meetings. The eventual UFL Cup champions beat Ceres 2-1 in te group stage before it completed its mastery with a 3-1 win in the final match. The Negros squad fared better in the league when they clawed back from a two-goal deficit to tie the match at 3-3 and blasted the eventual league champions 5-0 in the second round.
The Visayan rivals fared well in Asian competition with both teams topping their respective groups in the AFC Cup. Global topped Group F of the tournament when they nipped favorites Johor Darul Ta’zim in the group stage. Ceres meanwhile had to endure the difficult Group G as it hurdled teams such as Hanoi FC and Tampines Rovers in the elimination round.
The Philippine representatives qualified in the Asean Zonal semifinals and ended up with contrasting results. Global were knocked out with a 3-2 loss away against Home United to end their semifinal with 4-5 aggregate score. Ceres meanwhile qualified to the Asean zonal finals through away goals after scoring a 2-1 win versus JDT. The result equalized the aggregate score to 4-4 but the two goals scored in Johor came out as the difference maker in the tie.
The two teams are considered to be the pre-season favorites to win the maiden league title and the match will be the first of four meetings for the two rivals. Global is currently in second place with seven points after three matches while Ceres are in fifth with a point after drawing with Kaya in their first and only match.
“Tomorrow is going to be exciting. Maybe another, AFC game, to me its more than that because its the Visayas rivalry for tomorrow,” said Global Cebu Coach Marjo Allado. Global arrived in yesterday in Bacolod, two days removed from their AFC Cup match in Singapore. Allado believes that his team is fit to play after days of travelling. “In terms of recovery, I think the players had the proper recovery. When it comes to the travel, its not that hard for us, the players recovered very well,” the Ilonggo Coach added.
Ceres Assistant Coach Pepe Losada is looking forward to the clubs opening game in Panaad. “Tomorrow we will have the first match of the Philippines Football League at home and we are sure we can do a good performance. Both teams had a very tight match in the AFC and I think its a handicap for both teams. Global played on Tuesday and we played on Wednesday. So I hope that two of the best teams in the Philippines can show a good match for the people of Bacolod.”
“Its gonna be our first game in Bacolod and for PFL and it’s gonna be a very tough game tomorrow for both teams” said Global Captain Misagh Bahadoran. “That’s good for Philippine football that the there are two teams that are really gonna fight hard and try to win this game. We will try to make this game exciting for the fans and its gonna be a a very nice atmosphere for both teams. Its gonna be very very tough but hopefully it will be a fair game and that we give the fans a good match,” the current Azkal added.
“Tomorrow is gonna be a tough game, same as AFC Cup. We’ll just do the same thing and give our one hundred percent,” said Ceres Centerback Kota Kawase who scored the an instrumental goal against JDT last Wednesday. “We must continue our focus from the last game and focus again to tomorrow,” added the Japanese player.
Fireworks are expected once again when the two clubs renew their competitive rivalry in the PFL. The match will kickoff at 4PM with the game live telecast over PTV which is also streamed via the PTV Youtube channel. Tickets will also be given out in Panaad on gameday starting at 8AM.