Ceres-La Salle begins 2016 AFC Cup journey in front of hometown crowd
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 23, 2016 02:27 PM
Photo courtesy of the official Ceres-La Salle FC Facebook page
Reigning UFL Division champions Ceres-La Salle FC kicks off their 2016 AFC Cup campaign as they take on Malaysian powerhouse club FA Selangor in what’s expected to be a sold-out hometown crowd at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
Last year, Ceres got the opportunity to enter the 2015 AFC Cup, alongside former UFL champs Global FC, but unfortunately lost to Maldives club Maziya S&RC in the qualifying playoffs.
After taking the 2015 UFL Division I title, the Bacolod-based club gained automatic entry into the 2016 AFC Cup Knockout Stage. They find themselves in Group E, alongside Singapore’s Tampines Roves, Malaysia’s FA Selangor, and Bangladesh’s Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club.
“AFC is a different level everybody knows that,” said Ceres head coach Ali Go. “We’re competing also against champions of different countries, countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India and the Southeast Asian region.”
Heading into the AFC Cup opener, Ceres brought in one of the biggest names in Filipino football now in Fil-German Philippine Azkals standout Stephan Schrock, a veteran of the German Bundesliga, and they also brought in 22-year old Azkal Kevin Ingreso to further strengthen their champion team.
“I think we have a strong team, but I think in some positions, we have to beef up a little bit, and fortunately we got the services of one of the best players in the right now, Stephan Schrock,” Go said.
“It’s very important. It’s the best of the best now in Asia, this comes not really often, so we have try whatever we can make to make it positive for Filipino football.”
Schrock, who says he’s planned to come to the Philippines to play in the tailend of this career, saw his opportunity come much earlier.
“I had some other offers from the Middle East, Thailand, and Germany as well, but I always planned in in the end of my career, or the last part of my career to play in the Philippines, so that moment came a little bit earlier, and I’m happy that the deal happened. “
For the Fil-German fan favorite, he plans to do whatever he can to help his new club.
“It’s not just about me, it’s eleven players, and I’m just a small piece of the big puzzle, I try just to bring my performance to help the team, it’s not for me about scoring or making assists…it’s all about the team, not about the individual players.”
Playing alongside the new guys in Schrock and Ingreso are team captain Juani Guirado, Manny Ott, Paul Mulders, Patrick Reichelt, and Martin Steuble, all of whom are members of the Philippine national team.
Ceres also features the talents of former Azkals Carli De Murga, Nate Burkey, Jeffrey Christiaens, Marwin Angeles and Jason Sabio.
The first test for the Bacolod-based club is a matchup with seven-time Malaysia Super League champions FA Selangor.
In five AFC Cup appearances, Selangor’s best finish was in 2006, reaching the quarterfinal stage.
Catch Ceres-La Salle as they meet FA Selangor on Tuesday, February 23. Coverage begins at 6:45 PM LIVE on ABS-CBN Sports+Action 23 and ABS-CBN Sports+Action HD 166!