SENDOFF: Bacolod based Ceres-La Salle FC during their send off for the AFC Cup playoff against Maziya Sport ad Recreation Club of Maldives.
By Jerome Galunan
Watchmen Daily Journal
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines — Negros Occidental-based and multi-titled Ceres-La Salle FC has left for Maldives to prepare for their scheduled match against Maziya Sports and Recreation Club of Maldives on February 17 for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup play-off at the National Stadium in Malé.
The winner of this faceoff will join Group E alongside India’s Bengaluru, Persipura Jayapura of Indonesia, and Warriors of Singapore.
In the send-off press conference last Thursday Club Director Ali Bernard Go said that the team is in good spirit. “The team has been training hard for the upcoming game. Though we only saw some video clips of Maziya games, we will see their whole game when we arrive there [Maldives]. Our tactics against Maziya will also be different from the United Football League,” he added.
When asked how they prepare against Maziya side, Go said that they have their own tempo and strategy. “The team has been working on the scouting so that we would able to determine the adjustments needed,” he said.
Meanwhile, team captain Fil-Spanish Juani Guirado said that their team is ready for the match. “We don’t care if they have 15,000 or more crowd inside the stadium.”
For co-captain Michael Casas, they are 200% ready for the battle. “If we win in their field, it will bring disappointment for them. And, it will boost our confidence going to the next stage,” he said.
The Ceres side – considered as the Philippines’ most successful club since its establishment – is looking to make another history on its second stint in an AFC-sanctioned competition after seeing action in the President’s Cup Qualifiers last summer.
Meanwhile, in a message from Gov. Alfredo Maranon Jr. which was read by Ceres’ midfielder Nate Burkey that this herculean task of the club makes the province as the mecca of football in this part of the country. It added, that sports is one of the pillars of the Negros First Priority Development Agenda and he strongly support the Ceres-La Salle FC in your game against Mizaya FC of Maldives.
Further, Maranon stressed that the club must their best and give their all and continue to stand by the Negros Pride.
For Vice Gov. Eugenio ‘Bong’ Lacson’s message read by Ceres’ defender Jason Sabio that the club has another opportunity to prove to the international arena that Filipinos can excel in this sport.
Lacson added that as the club coming from the province makes him doubly proud. It shows that their efforts to promote the sports in the local scene has paid off and that the athletes from the province have what it takes to compete not only in the national level but in the international level as well.
The vice governor also reminded the players that they will be going as a team thus, remember to observe teamwork, contribute for the success of the team as each member is important.
Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella, on his part, said that he has great faith in Ceres-La Salle FC.
In his message, read by Ceres’ Jeffrey Christieans, the local chief executive believe that the team will succeed in the AFC Cup play-off stage in Maldives and will give Bacolod more home and away games, and just like before, the club will always make the city proud.
Team manager Leo Rey Yanson, meanwhile, said that the team will do their best to bring pride and honor to the country and in the province.
On the other hand, UFL Division 1 champion Global FC joins Yadanarbon of Myanmar, South China of Hong Kong and Pahang FA of Malaysia in Group G.
The AFC Cup is an annual international association football competition between domestic clubs run by the AFC for developing nations.
The “developing nations” are the 14 “next-best” countries that lie outside the top-14 countries in the AFC region which send their clubs to the more prestigious AFC Champions League.(WATCHMEN DAILY JOURNAL)