OJ Porteria and is the rest of Ceres-Negros may have ended their fairy tale run in the AFC Champions League with a defeat to Tianjin, but the midfielder looked back fondly at the experience especially after making Philippine club football history in their first attempt.
“I’m very proud of the team, very proud of everyone that’s involved in this club,” said the springy winger after the conclusion of the ACL Play-off with the Chinese squad. “Obviously, its very difficult for us to play these games in high level when you don’t really have a preseason and preparations especially if you happen to be arriving the day of the game.”
The busmen showed tremendous quality despite the circumstances that included playing on a frozen conditions against team that pays top dollar to some recognizable stars of world football. Starting the last two games, Porteria saw firsthand the difference in class between the two Champions League teams they faced.
“They (Tianjin) had three very high level players with Modeste, Pato, and Witsel. Its clear you can see the high level. Compared to the Brisbane Roar players, these players are just so calm on the ball and the pace that they play of the game is very fast,” said the many-time Philippine International.
Thought they missed out on being part of Asia’s elite competition, Porteria was pleased of the historic run especially when the team’s whole-hearted performance against the Chinese giant.
“Overall, I think this is great for Philippine football and we can be proud of ourselves and come out of this with our heads held high. It is something that is bigger than we can imagine and people all around Asia can look at us and say that this team is pretty damn good,” he added.
The Negros squad now set their sights in the AFC Cup where they will defend their ASEAN zone title starting on February 13 in Panaad.
Photos from Paul Smith / Brisbane Roar FC