Giant-slayer Ceres goes all the way, tops PFF-Smart Club

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CERES FC trainer Cha Soung-young gets a victory ride from his players after ruling the PFF Smart National Club Championship. Ceres blanked Pasargad FC, 1-0, at Rizal Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. EDWIN BELLOSILLO

The giant-killers turned out to be the giants after all.

Producing a superb display when the stakes were at its highest, Bacolod side Ceres nipped shorthanded Pasargad, 1-0, Saturday night to complete its sensational run to the top of the PFF Smart Club Championship at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Facing tough odds right from the start, Ceres conquered one giant after another with its clever play and inventiveness, capping its fairy tale campaign with a workmanlike performance against a stubborn PSG in a battle of unlikely finalists.

It took 56 minutes for Ceres to unlock the Pasargad defense with Korean striker Byeong Jeong-yoon, a St. La Salle student in Bacolod, firing what turned out to be the title-clinching goal after stand-in PSG keeper Ricardo Padilla failed to clear a searching ball from the left.

“It was a fairy tale that turned out to be a true story,” said Ceres team manager and former national team standout Ali Go. “We’re a champion team now.”

“This is too much for us,” said co-owner Leorey Yanson. “We just wanted to reach the semifinals, but winning is already a bonus. The players and coaches deserve this because they worked hard and showed a lot of heart.”

Pasargad missed four key players, including goalkeeper Reza Ataei, forcing the Iranian-flavored side to take a conservative approach that gave Ceres freedom to attack.

The scenario was unusual for Ceres, which was relying on swift counterattacks in the earlier rounds. Egged on by its drum-beating, yellow-clad supporters, the Bacolod side came out sharper in the second half and was deservedly rewarded by Byeong’s goal.

Byeong was later named Most Valuable Player of the championships.

“This was harder than expected because Pasargad just didn’t quit,” said Ceres’ Joshua Beloya, who was adjudged best midfielder of the tournament.

The road to the title couldn’t have been tougher for Ceres, a team made up of Koreans studying at St. La Salle and a slew of British players as well as the finest talents in Negros Occidental.

Underlining Negros Occidental’s reputation as a football powerhouse, the Bacolod side eliminated UFL Cup champion Stallion, 1-0, at Panaad on Jan. 9, before stunning UFL league champion Global via a similar scoreline in the quarterfinals.

Another UFL giant in Kaya was the next to fall to the Bacolod side in the semifinals, 1-3.

“The support for us has been tremendous,” said Go. “We have owners whose love for the team has been unconditional right from the start.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/fred.dueno Fred Dueño

    Congratulations! as a negrense football fan, i salute you!! Ceres FC

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GRVAJUYIO6PRIAPQHNE6MYKNEQ Lando

    negros occidental is no. 1 in football 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XALR35ENV2XKV327BZGZ7Q5Z5Q Ernesto

    actually negros occidental is football province wayback 1980s,NEGROS NASUTRA

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WXJBKM2WQHQOAS6NKMIVYI62HY Oliver

    Go Ceres!!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/J3B2HKABSL6GNSWU7EDKQRM4IE Seb

    koreans in negros

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexander.matti.5 Alexander Matti

    Hail the Yanson Bro of Bacolod and Negros.

    An instrument to bring the men and compete in manila

    Thanks for the support of football arena in Bacolod City

    You bring the name of Negros football into spotlight again.

    Go home with triumph of victory and play and practice again in Talisay pitch.

    More Power and Congrats to Ceres!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/RB77HFWKYPOOSGRUY4BZD6RJ4U Ronald

    provincial team winning the National Club Championships ???? unthinkable as if a provincial team winning a PBA conference.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FFVPH2R22XWJ3Z6QOP3WBA6KA4 EC

    Iloilo folks must be turning green with envy.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5R7FDH6I73P4IOHMOLQGDWOW7E n

    I like this story. I like this kind of win, truly a wake up call and a challenge for the so called “giants” of PHL football. Congrats Ceres for the well deserved win!! Forward PHL Football!! 

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