After historic unbeaten run, Ceres chief praises rival clubs for keeping league alive
Ceres Negros FC completed a historic unbeaten season in the Philippines Football League last Saturday night after blanking fierce rival Kaya Iloilo, 3-0, but club owner Leo Rey Yanson believes other teams in the league deserve as much as credit for keeping the competition alive amid difficult times.
The Busmen collected their third PFL trophy at Aboitiz pitch in Lipa City, but their march to the crown came amid adversity following the departures of key players in the middle of the season.
The PFL itself also faced issues as its kickoff was delayed by a few months this year after a new league operator was unable to comply with requirements in running the competition.
Through it all, seven clubs soldiered on to keep the competition going with Ceres, Kaya Iloilo, Stallion Laguna and Global Cebu staying in the league despite budget constraints. Green Archers, Mendiola FC and Philippine Air Force were all given provisionary licenses by the Philippine Football Federation to see action in the PFL.
“This has not been an easy season for everyone even at Ceres,” said Yanson, whose club’s existence was dragged into the corporate war pitting him and his siblings for control of the country’s largest bus company.
“We’ve had the honor of representing the PFL in past AFC competitions and without the clubs and the competition, this would not be possible. Although we are opponents on the field, we are still partners in the growth of the league and Philippine football.”
Goals from OJ Porteria, Bienve Maranon and James Younghusband against Kaya ensured that Ceres finished the season with 22 victories and two draws. Stephan Schrock was also awarded the Golden Ball as the top player of the league.
The victory meant Ceres will once again represent the Philippines in the AFC Champions League preliminary phase early next year.
PFF president Nonong Araneta said the league would be getting fresh funding from new sponsor Qatar Airways starting with the Copa Paulino Alcantara late this month.
“I’m glad that a global brand has shown its trust and support in the league,” said Araneta.
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