Two of the biggest clubs in Philippine football, with differing situations in terms of how they arrive respectively in the tournament are set to kick-off their AFC Cup campaigns this week.
Ceres-Negros FC host Burmese club Shan United in Panaad on Tuesday while Kaya Iloilo visit Lao Toyota in Vientianne, Laos on Wednesday.
Despite coming in with differing track records in the tournament, both Ceres and Kaya arrive with the same aim – to get a winning start in their bid to contend and have a lengthy participation in the AFC’s most prestigious continental club tournament next to the Champions League.
Unwavering desire: Ceres-Negros FC
After being stopped in their tracks by Yangon United in just the first hurdle, The Busmen will try to move on immediately and put the disappointment from their lackluster AFC Champions League campaign behind as they commence their mission on familiar territory – the AFC Cup against Shan United.
A regular participant since 2015, Ceres-Negros use this continental platform to further test their mettle in the midst of their dominance of the Philippines’ domestic league.
Now buoyed by goalkeeper Jun Badelic as a reinforcement for primary stopper Roland Muller along with Ronilo Bayan Jr. and with the addition of Bosnian forward Mahir Karic after the club’s Champions League demise, Ceres-Negros will most likely be back with something to prove to their fans: That their drive to achieve further success has not diminished.
A now loaded squad with the likes of Stephan Schrock, Bienvenido Maranon, and Alvaro Silva – to name a few – come February 26 at 7:30PM, we will see if the 2017 ASEAN Zone champions can build their momentum once again for another stellar campaign this 2019.
The lions’ hunger: Kaya FC Iloilo
With an absence of two years after their competition debut last 2016 (where they reached the round of 16), The Lions of Kaya FC once again are raring to go back in action in the continental stage after winning the 2018 Copa Paulino Alcantara (the league cup).
The addition of defender Simone Rota and versatile forward Darryl Roberts, along with the likes of established key talents like Jovin Bedic, Jordan Mintah and Alfred Osei, the Iloilo-based outfit will aim to once again announce that they belong in the international club tournament as league cup champions in their country.
Come the 27th of February, they will face their first big challenge against Lao Toyota in an away fixture at 7:30PM in the National Stadium in Vientianne, Laos.
Photo credit: Ceres-Negros FC and Kaya FC Iloilo