With their AFC Cup campaign over, Ceres-Negros FC now travels to the capital where they will face the new look Davao Aguilas on September 16 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila. It will be their second encounter in the Philippines Football League but new signings for Davao meant that it will be an all-new affair for both squads.
Both teams met last July 22 in Bacolod where the Busmen rolled over the Aguilas for the 2-0 win. OJ Porteria and Stephan Schrock scored against the Aguilas whose objective that time was to avoid a big loss before they complete their business in the transfer window.
Davao went then went on a spree in the with the signing of Angel Guirado and the acquisition of Meralco stars James and Phil Younghusband. The Mindanao squad also acquired Ceres players Jason De Jong, Simone Rota, and Jorrel Aristorenas on a free transfer aside from Nick O’donnel, Matt Hartmann, and Harrison Sawyer who were already lined up in the first encounter with Ceres.
The Negros squad meanwhile was quiet on the transfer front with the acquisition of Nessi Ramos and Joshua Dutosme, products of the junior Ceres-La Salle squad which is regarded as one of the best collegiate teams in the country.
The two squads are coming from tough games in different fronts before colliding in Saturdays match. Davao succumbed to a 1-3 loss against Global in Cebu City. The Aguilas’ spotty defending allowed their opponents three goals while they tried to ease their new acquisitions into their lineup.
Ceres meanwhile settled for a 1-1 draw in their second leg of their Inter-Zone semifinal against FC Istiklol in the AFC Cup which ultimately ended their historic AFC Cup run.
“We are looking forward to return in the PFL,” said Ceres Assistant Coach Ian Treyes. “We know that some players are tired. We’ve been together for nine months already, starting from the AFC then with the PFL last May. I hope we have an interesting match tomorrow with Davao who have many of our former players,” said the former National team player.
Ceres co-captain Michael Casas is also looking forward to playing the new look Davao squad. “Davao now has new players and we can see also that they are one of the teams to beat. We are excited to play in the PFL because our AFC Cup is done and we are looking forward to the next match,” said the former Azkals keeper.
The Busmen will be without Patrick Reichelt and Luke Woodland who both incurred injuries with the National team early this month. Injuries plus a busy schedule will be a challenge for Ceres this September.
“We have to make some adjustments for the upcoming games,” said Treyes. “For the coming two weeks, we will have four games in our hands. Hopefully we can use our other field players and focus on gaining some points in our next games, he added.
The match will be held in Rizal Memorial after the unavailability of the DavNor Sports Complex for the said match date. Tickets will be available at the stadium prior to kickoff. A livestream will be provided by the PFL.
Photos from Stephen Tan and from Aguilas FC Davao Facebook account.