By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
FOR the third straight year Ceres-Negros FC is the Philippines Football League (PFL) champion and it did it in style, coming from behind to bag the title.
Needing one more win and the full three points that goes with it to finally secure this year’s edition of the league title, the “Busmen” did exactly that, showing much resilience to buck an early deficit and defeat Green Archers United FC, 3-1, in their game at the Aboitiz Pitch in Lipa City, Batangas, on Oct. 12, Saturday.
The win took Ceres to 56 points with a couple of games left in its schedule to render itself out of reach from the chasing pack led by second-running Kaya FC Iloilo (50 points).
Ceres found itself trailing at the end of the opening half, 1-0, after John Celiz put GAU ahead in the 24th minute.
The league champion though regrouped in the second half, with Angelo Marasigan finding the bottom of the net in the 50th minute to level the count at 1-1.
It kept putting the pressure on GAU after and when the 81st minute struck Ceres went on top thanks to a goal from Bienvenido Maranon.
Two minutes later, the Spanish striker completed his brace and in the process gave his team a two-point cushion from which their opponents could not recover from.
Aside from clinching the 2019 PFL title, the win handed Ceres a 16th straight victory and unblemished record to date, a league record.
As the PFL champions anew, the “Busmen” earned the right to represent the Philippines in the AFC Champions League preliminary round 1 next year.
“It’s a nice feeling. The guys they started very early and with all the problems we had all season and everything, this title is the most important of all three,” said Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic after clinching their straight title.
“I think the guys showed everyone that they are very professional. They worked very hard during the whole year. Especially that we started January 5, we’re already nine months working very hard and it’s not easy,” he added, underscoring the kind of effort they put in their quest to win three straight league titles.
Ceres still has two remaining matches against Mendiola FC 1991 on Oct. 16 and Kaya on 19, in that order. Both games will be played at the Aboitiz Pitch.