Ceres sharpens teeth with new signings
BACOLOD CITY—Ceres-Negros unveiled five new players on Thursday as the reigning Philippines Football League champion braces for its maiden appearance in the AFC Champions League qualifying round.
National team players Amani Aguinaldo, Mike Ott and Sean Kane were acquired to boost an already-formidable side, while Japanese striker Takumi Uesato and Spanish goalkeeper Toni Doblas also joined the squad that lost the likes of Roland Muller and Iain Ramsay from the championship winning team last season.
The Busmen begin their AFC Champions League campaign on Tuesday against Shan United of Myanmar in Yangon. The winner travels to Australia to meet the Brisbane Roar on Jan. 23.
Except for Aguinaldo, who is recovering from a knee injury, all of Ceres’ new signings will be available for the Champions League.
Aguinaldo spent the last three seasons with Global Cebu. The Davao Aguilas, Aguinaldo’s hometown club, reportedly tried to acquire the young defender.
“I wanted to be better and I feel playing with great players at Ceres and playing in top competitions like the AFC Cup gives me that chance to grow,” said Aguinaldo.
Ott, who played for Ang Thong in the Thai second division last year, will be reunited with older brother, Manny, at Ceres.
Uesato, one of the PFL’s top scorers while playing for JPV Marikina last year, will also play a key role along with Kane, a central defender and right back.
But the 37-year-old Doblas has the most impressive resume among the signings having played in top leagues in Europe like La Liga and Serie A in Italy. Doblas, who won the Coppa Italia with Napoli in the 2013-2014 season, played with Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic early in his career at Real Betis.
“They’re all good players, but my expectation from them is that they would be professionals and always give everything for the club to stand a chance of repeating, if not surpassing, what we’ve achieved last year,” said Vidakovic.
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