Ceres Negros kicks off PFL reboot
MANILA, Philippines–Ceres Negros starts its bid for a third straight Philippines Football League crown as it collides with dangerous Stallion Laguna on Saturday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Having started their season earlier than the rest owing to their AFC Cup campaign, the Busmen set out as the heavy favorite against a Stallion side that will unveil a strong homegrown crew led by goalkeeper Patrick Deyto.
“It’s just important for us to start the season strong,” said Ceres captain Martin Steuble.
Kaya-Iloilo battles newcomer Green Archers United in the 4 p.m. match as the country’s domestic league finally kicks off after the Philippine Football Federation terminated its partnership with the previous league operator, Triple C Holdings, which had earlier renamed the PFL to the Philippine Premier League.
“There are a lot of lessons learned,” said PFF general secretary Ed Gastanes. “But the most important thing is that we’re about to start the league and we’re seeing a rosier picture for this year’s competition and next year. In fact, we are close to signing a deal with a major sponsor.”
Although the league started quite late compared to other competitions in the region, PFL commissioner Coco Torre assured that the schedule remains “manageable” even with Ceres still playing in the AFC Cup.
The seven clubs, including pioneer Global and other newcomers Air Force and Mendiola, will play two rounds of home-and-away matches until November with the champion bagging an outright slot to the AFC Cup next year. The Copa Paulino Alcantara will be played shortly after the league competition.
“The clubs are in this together which is very important,” said Stallion coach Ernie Nierras. “It’s not always going to be perfect because the league is just on its third year but at the end of the day, our objectives in the last couple of seasons were met because the league has been able to send teams to continental competitions.”
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