TOP local football club Ceres-Negros FC begins its trek for a spot in the 2019 AFC Champions League today when they take on visiting Yangon United of Myanmar in the first stage of a three-phase qualifier at the Panaad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City.
Philippines Football League champion Ceres must win the three-stage qualifier if it is to advance to the next stage.
If Ceres successful defeats Yangon United today, it must beat Chiangrai United of Thailand on Feb. 12 in the second stage of the preliminaries before facing Sanfrecce Hiroshima, the third-ranked club from Japan, for the right to book a spot in the AFC Champions League.
The winner of the stage will be lumped in Group F along with China’s Guangzhou Evergrande, Korea Republic’s second ranked club, and Australia’s Melbourne Victory.
Ceres and Yangon United will meet again after colliding in the ASEAN Zone semifinal of the AFC Cup last year.
To help them in their push for the Champions League, the “Busmen” recently signed Philippine Azkals defender Alvaro Silva.
He will join forces with team stalwarts like Stephan Schrock, Kevin Ingreso and Carli de Murga.
In the event Ceres falls at the onset against Yangon United though, it will be relegated to the group stage of the Asian Football Confederation Cup, the region’s second-tier club tournament.
The Ceres-Yangon United match will be shown live over 5PLUS (formerly AksyonTV) beginning at 7 p.m. The match will also be streamed live in the Philippines at the ESPN5 Website. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo