By Jonas Terrado
8 p.m. — Port FC vs Ceres
Ceres-Negros anticipates an even-tougher challenge when it seeks a spot in the final phase of qualifiers in the AFC Champions League against Port FC at the PAT Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Philippines Football League and Copa Paulino Alcantara champions will have their hands full against Port in the 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. Philippine time) duel in the Thai capital.
At stake is a trip to Japan next week to face FC Tokyo for the right to secure a berth in Asia’s top continental club competition.
Ceres began its Champions League bid last week by defeating Myanmar’s Shan United 3-2 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium thanks to goals from Robert Lopez Mendy, Bienvenido Maranon and OJ Porteria.
The Busmen already have an idea of how to play Port, which finished third in last season’s Thai League 1.
“They were always competitive in the league. They’ve got great players and this year they signed a couple of decent ones,” said Ceres midfielder Mark Hartmann, who had previous stints in Thailand.
They will also face a familiar player in Philippine Azkals midfielder Martin Steuble, who played close to four years for Ceres before joining Port during last year’s transfer window.
Steuble helped the Busmen collect three league championships from 2015 to 2019.