Key AFC duel: Ceres takes on South China
BACOLOD—Ceres-La Salle, a team seeking more historic feats, goes for another milestone against a club that is out to preserve its proud tradition in the AFC Cup.
The reigning United Football League champion aim to become the first Filipino side to reach the quarterfinals of the competition Tuesday night at Panaad Stadium.
Standing in its way in the one-game playoff is Hong Kong’s South China, one of the oldest, most prestigious clubs in the continent that has become a perennial contender in the tournament.
“South China is probably the best team we will be playing against in the history of our club,” said Ceres owner Leorey Yanson Monday night. “But we are the home side and we will have the crowd behind us.”
The Ceres-South China clash kicks off a huge week for Philippine club football as Kaya takes on Johor Dairul Ta’zim in another Round of 16 clash in the AFC Cup.
On Saturday, Global takes on Nagaworld of Cambodia at the start of the Singapore Cup, before Ceres also opens its bid in the same tournament against S-League side Young Lions a day later.
But Ceres coach Frank Muescan said the squad is focused on hurdling a South China side that beat UFL side Global twice in last year’s tournament.
Ceres went unbeaten in six matches to top Group E and secure home field advantage in the first knockout phase.
South China coach Jose Ricardo Rambo hopes his team can carry its fine form against Ceres, saying: “We’ve had good results in the past three games, but this game is very important.”
Spanish striker Adrian Gallardo will be a marked man for Ceres, having notched eight goals in the group stage.
Ceres boasts a formidable Filipino crew led by Azkals Patrick Reichelt, Manny Ott, Stephan Schrock and Martin Steuble.