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OPINION: Ceres-Negros win ACL2020 campaign opener but concerns arise

Ceres-Negros FC pulled off possibly the best start early in its match against Shan United in the AFC Champions League Preliminary Stage, but a close final score showed concerns later in the tie as they head into their next challenge against a possibly much tougher Port FC.

As the Philippine domestic double champions continue their undefeated run and head to Bangkok in a week’s time to face Thailand’s domestic cup winners, here are some points of discussion on the busmen’s strengths and possible weaknesses to address as they bid to go further in their Champions League qualification campaign.

Immense frontline capability

Ceres-Negros showed their attacking might during their match against the Burmese champions as they dominated possession and peppered the visitors with attempts for the most part.

Robert Lopez Mendy, and Bienvenido Marañon got their goals, proving their striking ability for the busmen. With the additional firepower coming from attack-minded players such as Mike Ott and OJ Porteria (who also found the back of the net on top of a man of the match performance), and the creativity provided by Stephan Schröck and Hikaru Minegishi, Ceres were able to supply a sustained level of attacking verve and options that proved crucial in registering the goals they needed to get the required result.

Add to the fact that several options in attack and midfield ended up unused during the tie with the likes of creative midfielder Dylan de Bruycker and highly rated forward Mark Hartmann not seeing action in the fixture, shows that head coach Risto Vidakovic still has something up his sleeves heading into their next challenge in Thailand.

Seamless defense to attack transition

The busmen also demonstrated their signature knack for utilizing the ball well in a sense that building attacking plays from the defensive line seems to be fluid which gives significant credit to the defenders who are comfortable with the ball, and a very capable anchor provided by defensive midfielder Takashi Odawara.

Ceres’ ability to keep and distribute the ball well upfield from the backline is a testament to the club’s utilization of the midfield as an effective channel in helping create opportunities for the frontline.

Bannered by the leadership of veteran midfielder and captain Stephan Schröck who could operate as a “free radical” in the middle of the park with the role as one of the main catalysts on the offensive end, Ceres’ midfield definitely is its main power source that drives the entire black and yellow juggernaut forward.

Worrisome finishing

Obviously the first major concern shown by the busmen was their finishing, which leaves much to be desired. For the duration of the match, particularly in the first half, Ceres-Negros spurned some good chances that could have put them at least with a five goal-advantage and may have put the tie to end early, even if Shan United were able to register a few goals later on.

However, because of the wasted efforts, Ceres, can only maintain a two-goal lead in the match, making the business end of the clash against Shan United very much tense and in the balance when the visiting side were able to convert a second goal for a thrilling 3-2 finish with the hosts just doing enough to hold on for the win.

First-game jitters and rustiness may have come into play for Ceres’ forwards, understandably so in this situation, but with the icebreaking match already done, the need to be sharper is definitely paramount heading into their away match against a possibly tougher proposition against Thai FA Cup champions Port FC in less than a week’s time.

An unsettled defense

In the second half, Shan United were given hope when on several occasions, the Ceres-Negros backline was caught flat-footed, eventually leading to two goals by the Burmese champions that contributed for a nervy finish to the fixture.

With Carlie De Murga’s departure, the onus is on the remaining defenders and the newcomers to sync-in with each other and establish a reliable defense.

Super Herrera also seemed to have suffered a knock during the match that contributed to more lethargic marking, and if Super will not be 100 percent come the next match, it could be a main concern for coach Risto Vidakovic to maintain an effective line of defense.

Lack of match-fitness

Lastly it was obvious that the busmen came up short in sustaining the needed intensity from kickoff to the final whistle.

As the second half wore on, so did Ceres-Negros’ form. Such a dip in the busmen’s performance gave Shan United the opportunity to pounce on the slack they saw with the Burmese club’s pacy forwards, particularly Liberian Keith Nah, who marauded the host team’s flanks in the last throes of the match.

Such lack of fitness (which the coaching staff is probably anticipating already) is something that the team should be focused on heading into their match against Port FC in Thailand. Even though the Thai FA Cup champions may also have the same predicament having only a friendly match against Police Tero the past few days with the domestic league in Thailand yet to begin until February, it would be important for the Philippine champions to address this matter, easier said than done though, due to the domestic season is yet to begin in two months time.

Photo credit: Glen Charles Lopez / Ceres-Negros FC

Ceres-Negros squeeze past Shan United in five-goal thriller

Ceres-Negros FC stave off a late fightback to win their AFC Champions League Preliminary Round 1 match against Shan United FC, 3-2, last January 14 in Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The fixture began with hosts Ceres showing more attacking impetus in the early proceedings. However, an early stoppage was prompted when Super was clipped by a Shan United player in the second minute.

Soon enough, the attacking verve shown by Risto Vidakovic’s men was duly rewarded when Robert Mendy latched on to a Pika Minegishi assist from the left flank to break the deadlock and give his side a bright start in just the fifth minute.

In the eighth minute, OJ Porteria unleashed just a few yards outside the D with the intent of doubling the lead for the Philippine champions but his effort flew just wide of the right post.

A few moments later, Robert Mendy seemed to have found himself released by a well weighted pass from Stephan Schröck but the referee brandished a yellow card instead for a handball.

For the most part of the first half, the busmen were mostly on the ascendancy while visitors Shan United were mostly on the back foot, with chances limited on the few opportunities via the counter that were snuffed well by the hosts.

A free kick opportunity taken by Stephan Schröck in the 17th minute was well on-target but Shan United captain and goalkeeper Thiha Sithu anticipated the shot well for a timely intervention.

In the 21st minute of the proceedings a well-worked play by the Ceres frontline saw Bienve Marañon in a promising position to drive from range inside the box but his attempt flew just wide of the far post.

Three minutes later, a rare foray by Shan United into Ceres-Negros’ half came to naught as Roland Müller smothered what could have been a promising ball.

As the half hour mark arrived, a rare promising spell came in favor of Shan United as they were able to unearth a buildup play within the confines of Ceres’ penalty box but Super’s diligent marking was enough to break down the play.

Ten minutes before the half-time mark, Bienve was fouled by Shan defender Daniel Tagoe, who was cautioned with a yellow card by referee Ali Hasan Abdulnabi, but the ensuing freekick by the hosts was well managed by the visiting side.

In the 40th minute, Ceres finally doubled their lead as OJ Porteria crafted a well-placed cross for Marañon to tuck the ball into the back of the net from the center of the box as the break arrived with Philippines’ undefeated double champion enjoying a comfortable lead.

Three minutes after the restart, the hosts once again enjoyed a few gilt-edged chances as Mendy was released by a well-timed feed from Mike Ott, but his effort flew wide of the near post. Immediately, Porteria had a driven shot denied by the bar with Mendy’s follow-up going wide once again.

Ceres continued their relentless pursuit of the insurance goal as they dominated possession and crafted opportunities with Shan United crowding their box to weather the busmen’s barrage.

In the 56th minute, a Bienvenido Marañon effort off Mendy’s pass was denied by the bar as another chance came begging to put the tie well at rest in favor of the hosts.

A minute after the hour mark, Shan United may have seen their best chance of the match as an Abubakar freekick was deflected just narrowly wide of Müller’s far post.

In the 68th minute a scare came against Ceres as a defensive effort almost gifted the Burmese champions a consolation goal but Müller was able to come up with a timely save to keep the clean sheet.

But the visitors finally got a lifeline in the 73rd minute as Burmese forward Zin Min Tun headed in to pull a goal back as the defense was caught napping.

Ceres tried to pull off an immediate response, crafting at least three chances to no avail as the tie suddenly became more tense for both sides with fouls seemingly more aplenty.

A minute before the 80th minute mark, the hosts were able to restore their two-goal lead as OJ Porteria made sure of his attempt from close range as the match began to be more heated than ever before with cautions being given to both sides.

Three minutes before the 90th minute mark, Shan United reduced the deficit once again as Maximin scored with the hosts’ defense caught flat-footed. Not a minute has passed as the alarm bells rang once again for Ceres with Keith Nah curling just wide from the right flank from a counterattacking play.

Keith Nah turned to be the aggressor in favor of the Burmese side late in the match as his subsequent foray into the right flank forced a foul and a freekick which Nanda Kyaw was able to decently curl only to miss by a small margin.

Despite the late fightback and some nervous final moments, Ceres-Negros eventually got the crucial win to setup a match against Thai FA Cup champions Port FC in Thailand.

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ACL2020 prelim: Ceres-Negros, Shan United to clash in 'Battle of the Undefeated'

It’s a battle between two undefeated clubs as Philippine double champions Ceres-Negros face Burmese counterparts Shan United in the AFC Champions League preliminary match on January 14.

Speaking during the prematch presser last Monday afternoon, January 13, coach Risto Vidakovic is anticipating a tricky and tough proposition ahead of their season opener.

“It’s going to be a very hard game, because it’s our first [match of the 2020 season]… I cannot say that we are ready 100%. We just had three training sessions. It’s the first game for us and nobody is [match] fit enough. But we have to forget all of the excuses. I’m not expecting from my players [as] it’s impossible to be prepared [in this situation]. But we want to win and I’m expecting everyone to give 100% on the game, that’s all I need [from them].

Ceres-Negros FC: Defender Sean Kane (left), Head Coach Risto Vidakovic (right)

Meanwhile defender Sean Kane also expressed the same sentiments as his mentor given the match being their first for the year’s set of campaigns but the Ceres stalwart believes that they have a chance if they execute well and maximize the talents at hand.

“We know how coach wants us to play. I’d say that we just [need to] follow the plan and try to get the new players on-board as soon as possible. We take tomorrow and prepare as well as we can.”

Ceres- Negros strengthened their squad for the upcoming 2020 season with the addition of forward Mark Hartmann, midfielders Hikaru Minegishi and Arnie Pasinabo, and defender Joshua Grommen in their already talented team.

But visiting side Shan United will definitely be no walk in the park as they are bannered with local standouts Zin Min Tun and Dway Ko Ko Chit with reinforcements provided by their foreign contingent with Kyrgyz defender Daniel Tagoe, Ivorian midfielder Maximin, Senegalese midfielder Abubakar and highly rated Liberian forward Keith Nah.

Shan United: Goalkeeper Thiha Sithu (left), Head Coach Aung Naing (center)

“For this match, we haven’t made big preparations [as] our league started a few days ago, so we already played one match locally. One of our key defenders got injured in that match, but we will still try our best to get a good result tomorrow,” said Shan United FC head coach Aung Naing.

Meanwhile goalkeeper Thiha Sithu already is familiar with the hosts and knows the significance of the task at hand, yet is still optimistic of his team’s chances.

“We have played Ceres-Negros three or four times already so we now that they are a very good team. We will play with respect for our opponents and at then play with unity. Hopefully we get a good result tomorrow.”

What makes the matchup interesting is the fact that both teams are to face each other coming from their successful campaigns last season without suffering a single defeat in their respective leagues.

“We have a good level of confidence heading into this match based on last year’s [undefeated domestic league campaign], but this year will be different and Ceres is a very good team. Last year we lost against them [in the AFC Cup] both home and away, but this year we will try to win,” added coach Aung Naing.

Ceres-Negros of the Philippines host Shan United of Myanmar on Tuesday, January 13, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. Kickoff is at 7:30PM. Admission is free while the match will be shown live on 5Plus while a delayed same day telecast will be broadcasted via One Sports at 10PM.

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Ceres-Negros anticipate arduous AFC Champions League 2020 campaign

Philippine football’s domestic double champions, Ceres-Negros FC, are once again set to embark on their continental campaign for 2020 by facing Myanmar’s national league titleholders Shan United in the AFC Champions League preliminary round one match this January 20, 2019 at the Rizal Stadium.

Already qualified for the AFC Cup Group Stage, the Busmen are looking to take their chances with the hopes of qualifying for the group stage of Asian club football’s highest level of competition.

But it won’t be a walk in the park as stated by Head Coach Risto Vidakovic during the Philippine Sportswriters’ Association Forum last January 8 when it came to their first assignment Shan United given both competing clubs are virtually playing their first matches of their respective seasons with new key player acquisitions.

“This game is very important for us. If we want to go to the next round, we have to fight for it,” shared the Serbian mentor who was also quick to provide on how tricky the task at hand is going to be for his squad.

“[But] nobody knows what is going to happen [in the match] because both teams are going to play their first games [of the season]. Nobody knows how they are and how we are [tactically]. We’ll [have to] see.”

Ceres team captain Stephan Schröck stated that the team’s mindset is on winning their qualification campaign opener.

“It’s always on winning. Regardless if we are prepared or if we have a short time together or long time together (as a team), it’s always about winning… The mindset is prepared. Let’s see if the body will follow.”

Burmese club Shan United are coming into the match as Myanmar’s representatives after winning the 2019 National League undefeated, bannered by local standout forwards Zin Min Tun and Dway Ko Ko Chit. But their crucial acquisition in the offseason is Liberian striker Keith Nah who just played for rivals Ayeyawady United the previous campaign, scoring 10 goals.

Ceres-Negros have just completed getting the services (as of this writing) of Azkals striker Mark Hartmann who previously played for Thai club Nakhon Ratchasima, winger Hikaru Minegishi (formerly of JL Chiang Mai United), defender Josh Grommen (from Sukhothai FC), and Arnie Pasinabo (from Kaya FC) as reinforcements for the upcoming season. Meanwhile the current confirmed departures from the Philippine champions are midfielder Miguel Tanton, team captain Carlie De Murga (rumored to be heading to Thai club Chonburi) and youngster Charles Barberan.

If Ceres-Negros successfully get a positive result against Shan United, they proceed to preliminary round 2 where they will face Thai FA Cup champions Port FC in a week’s time in Thailand who have former Ceres captain and Azkals defender Martin Steuble in their ranks. And if ever the Busmen get through against Port, they go to Japan to face J1 league powerhouse Kashima Antlers as their final hurdle towards breaking through the Champions League group stage.

Ceres-Negros vs Shan United AFC Champions League preliminary round one kicks off  in Rizal Memorial Football Stadium on January 14, 2019 at 7:30PM.

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HISTORY! Invincibles Ceres snatch Copa Alcantara to complete perfect season

Goals from Robert Lopez Mendy and Tristan Kit Robles were enough, despite a late Kenshiro Daniels goal for Kaya, as Ceres-Negros snatch the crown and win 2-1 in the final for an unprecedented double in the 2019 edition of the Copa Paulino Alcantara that was held last November 16 in Binan Laguna.

Right after kickoff, Ceres-Negros immediately tried to employ a high-pressure approach with Senegalese striker Robert Lopez Mendy even finding the back of the net in the fourth minute, only to be ruled offside.

Kaya meanwhile were caught on their back-heels, defending in numbers, with a fifth minute corner by the busmen’s holding midfielder Miguel Tanton successfully finding Japanese enforcer Takashi Odawara who headed just wide.

Ceres continued to pile up some promising chances against their opponents as the defending cup holders looked disjointed in the early proceedings.

In the 11th minute, Roland Muller landed awkwardly after colliding with fellow busman Dennis Villanueva while saving a threatening ball from Kaya  that put a brief stoppage in the proceedings, but the net-minder turned out to be alright.

A free-kick by Kaya in the 18th minute came begging but ultimately came to naught as the play was easily dealt with by the Ceres-Negros defense.

A chance for the Bacolod-based club arrived in the 20th minute with Junior Munoz, operating from the right flank, unleashing Robert Lopez Mendy who fired from range only for keeper Michael Casas to parry the effort and snuff out the threat.

But Kaya were awarded a freekick in a very promising position, just outside Ceres’ penalty box, a few moments later. However, Kenshiro Daniels’ attempt went just wide of the near post.

Michael Casas once again was called to action for Kaya in the 27th minute when a dangerous ball went deceivingly near his goal.

In the 28th minute, Jovin Bedic had a golden opportunity for Kaya with only Roland Muller to beat, but his shot was deflected by the Ceres goalkeeper away from goal.

And just at the stroke of the half hour mark, Ceres-Negros produced the icebreaker off a stunning counter-attacking move, with James Younghusband providing the dangerous cross at speed towards an onrushing Robert Mendy who dispatched the ball into Kaya’s net without any hint of doubt at point-blank range.

Kaya immediately tried to respond within the next minute, with the ball finding Jayson Panhay but the winger’s effort was way high over the bar to even worry Muller at goal.

Coach Noel Marcaida’s men continued to search for an equalizer coming close once again in the 35th minute with Daniels firing wide from a considerable distance after receiving a well-worked ball from Ghanaian midfielder Alfred Osei.

Kaya continued to be unrelenting, with Panhay firing from an angle inside the box within the next minute, but his shot was well handled by Ceres captain, Muller.

In the 41st minute the busmen once again got into high-gear producing another chance with James Younghusband’s cross from the right wing just missing Mendy.

Kaya almost got an answer from an ensuing play, with Jordan Mintah unleashing a shot that flew narrowly off-target as the first half eventually came to an end after a minute of added time with the three-peat league champions enjoying a slim 1-0 lead.

After the restart, Ceres-Negros continued where they left off showing more impetus and verve in their plays and seemingly enjoying their role as underdogs in the final. 

With the situation obviously not favoring Kaya, Coach Noel Marcaida was forced to make an early change with Connor Tacagni replacing Panhay to provide more presence and industry up front.

In the 58th minute Kaya showed a glimpse of the promise they can conjure in their attack but a deceiving cross failed to find Kenshiro Daniels who could have headed the ball at speed.

In the 63rd minute, a freekick from Daniels from the right midfield found Darryl Roberts who just cannot direct the ball on-target with his header.

In the 67th minute Kaya had best chance to equalize off a set piece with Masanari Omura connecting with Daniels’ freekick only for the ball to shave the far post and bounce out of danger as Ceres got a fortunate break.

The defending champions will immediately rue that gilt-edged opportunity as right in the next play, Ceres doubled their lead with Tristan Kit Robles putting himself in the scoresheet by burying the chance off a well crafted lay-off from Mendy.

The Iloilo-based squad pushed forth to get themselves a goal with Bedic producing an effort that was easily dealt with 30 minutes after the restart while a venomous header from Tacagni forced Muller to an acrobatic save but still a breakthrough still did not arrive.

Tense moments followed for Ceres, as Kaya came close thrice near the 80th minute mark, but the league champions were let off the hook in all of those three.

James Younghusband who was on a receiving end of a collision moments ago was replaced by Charles Ivan Barberan.

Younghusband’s absence may have unsettled the balance in Ceres as five minutes before the 90th minute mark, Kaya finally scored a goal with Kenshiro Daniels putting his team back in the game.

Kaya continued to knock into Ceres’ defense with Daniels proving to be an inspiration for his team late in the match with an 87th minute freekick hitting the crossbar.

A nervy end to the match with four minutes of added time proved to be a nail-biter with the league invincibles defending with their dear lives, but the equalizer failed to arrive as Ceres-Neros achieved an unprecedented double in Philippine Football’s professional era going unbeaten for the whole 2019 domestic campaign.

A much tougher Copa Alcantara in 2020?

The Copa Paulino Alcantara serves as country’s counterpart to the FA Cup and is under the auspices of the Philippine Football Federation with the Philippines Football League commissioned to lead the organization of the tournament.

Unlike a “league cup” competition where the tournament is limited only to participants of the top-flight and, to an extent, the second division in other countries, the FA Cup is actually a knockout battle royale of all professional clubs and the PFL is planning to apply that essence in the next Copa Alcantara edition.

Given that the PFL is the only league made up of fully professional clubs, it is being mulled by PFL Commissioner Coco Torre to open the Copa to semi-professional teams and clubs pending certain requirements from the organizers.

If the expansion of the cup to non-PFL clubs pushes through for the 2020 edition, it would mean that it will be a much tougher road for the participating clubs to win the cup.

Photo credit: Philippines Football League Facebook Page

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Copa Alcantara: Ceres ‘Invincibles’ battle holders Kaya for PH football supremacy

Ceres-Negros and Kaya FC Iloilo secured their tickets to the Copa Paulino Alcantara final, and along with the mouthwatering face-off for the silverware, a much bigger implication is at stake that deals on the power-play in the early phase of Philippine football’s professional era.

Three-time consecutive Philippines Football League (PFL) champions Ceres were able to squeeze through a seven-goal thriller semifinal match against a spirited Stallion Laguna side by getting a 4-3 win in Binan Football Stadium last November 10.

In the other semifinal, which kicked-off simultaneously, Kaya successfully mounted a late push in the second half to get a 3-0 result and deny Mendiola FC 1991 any glimmer of hope of reaching the final for a shot at winning the cup.

The results from both matches rendered the qualification for a second AFC Cup spot a foregone conclusion with Kaya already filling the void being the 2019 PFL runners-up.

However, with both sides meeting in the Copa Paulino Alcantara decider, a bigger underlying battle for supremacy is at stake aside from just winning the coveted trophy, as the cup could now be considered more as a stamp of dominance in Philippine top-flight football.

Ceres-Negros’ push for domestic immortality

League champions Ceres-Negros won the league in very convincing fashion by not suffering a single loss. Such a feat earned them the Invincibles tag for the entire 2019 PFL campaign.

But a rampant performance in the course of the busmen’s cup campaign, save for their lackluster opening draw against Mendiola, made Ceres one of the clear favourites to win the second edition of the domestic cup.

If Coach Risto Vidakovic’s men are able to win against Kaya on November 16, the Bacolod-based club will now be the first ever winners of the domestic double, completing a sweep of the trophies that Philippine football has on offer at the highest level.

What will make the feat even more remarkable, if attained, is Ceres’ invincibility tag will then be for the entire 2019 season which will be an undefeated run that spans both the league and cup campaigns – something that might never be replicated for, at least, several years.

Kaya FC’s march towards destiny

Kaya FC Iloilo meanwhile are set to defend their title with only one hurdle left standing their way, the formidable Ceres fleet.

After achieving a dream start in the cup tournament with the 5-0 dismantling of Philippine Air Force, Coach Noel Marcaida’s men were pushed to the limit against Stallion Laguna in their final Group B fixture last November 6 with a 1-1 draw, as both teams tussled to seize top seeding which Kaya were able to hold on to.

However, the semifinal win against a hungry Mendiola squad proved that Kaya are legitimate defenders of the cup that they were able to win last year in thrilling fashion.

Come the final, if Kaya are able to take their chances and end up victorious, it would halt their close rivals, Ceres-Negros’ plans to achieve something exclusively rare, while they themselves will seize a historic back-to-back Copa Alcantara titles that could pave the way for them to a legitimate claim as the “Cup Kings” of Philippine Football, with the two of the biggest trophies once again split between the fierce rivals.

A true test of depth for The Invincibles

The final won’t be a walk in the park though for either side, as both squads’ mettles will be tested.

But a much tougher proposition hangs on Ceres-Negros as it is believed that several of their key players are already heading to the Azkals’ camp immediately after the recently concluded semifinal match in preparation for the World Cup qualifying match away against Maldives which will be on November 14.

Though Ceres’ squad is no doubt very deep, if full-force, the fact that five more players might not be available for the final against Kaya will be a true test of the busmen’s bench.

The Final of the 2019 Copa Paulino Alcantara is set on Saturday, November 16 in Binan Football Stadium.

Follow the Philippines Football League Facebook page for more info

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Azkals captain Stephan Schröck earns ASEAN Best XI plaudit

Fresh from being confirmed as the best creator in the recently concluded AFC Cup 2019 with his tournament-leading six assists, Philippine Azkals captain and Ceres-Negros midfield engine Stephan Schröck earned further citation after being included in AFF’s ASEAN Best XI.

The awarding happened during the AFF 2019 Awards Night which was held in the evening of November 8 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Aside from bagging the most number of assists in the continental tourney for Ceres-Negros, Schröck also helped his club win the Philippines Football League for the third straight time since the league’s inaugural season, with the latest 2019 title achieved without suffering a single defeat, as the busmen earned the Invincibles moniker that is traditionally reserved for teams that completed an undefeated league campaign.

With the Philippines Football League already secured, Stephan’s club Ceres-Negros FC are still on track in their bid to win the Copa Paulino Alcantara for a chance to achieve an unprecedented double in Philippine football’s professional era.

Completing the rest of the ASEAN Best XI with Stephan Schröck are Dang Van Lam (Vitenam/Muangthong Utd), Muhammad Syahmi Safari (Malaysia/Selangor FA), Que Ngoc Hai (Vietnam/The Cong FA), Muhammad Safuwan Baharuddin (Singapore/Pahang), Korrakot Wiriya-Udomsiri (Thailand/Buriram Utd), Mohamed Syamer Kutty Abba (Malaysia/Johor Darul Ta’zim), Sanrawat Dechmitr (Thailand/Bangkok Utd), Riko Simanjuntak (Indonesia/Persija Jakarta), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Malaysia/Pahang), and Player of the Year Nguyen Quang Hai (Vietnam/Hanoi FC).

The Filipino international’s recent achievement is just the latest of a milestone-laden year as he captained the Philippine Azkals’ first ever campaign in the Asian Cup early this 2019 where he became the first ever goalscorer for the Philippines.

Photo credit: Stephan Schröck Instagram