MANILA, Philippines - Philippine champion Ceres-La Salle FC launches its bid in the Asian Football Confederation President’s Cup today, banking on the “12th man” for extra strength and resolve in battling tough Rimyongsu of North Korea at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
Ceres comes into the 5 p.m. match as the heavy underdogs against Rimyongsu, a club bannered by veterans of the U-17 and U-20 World Cups such as An Chol-Hyok, Jong Chol-Min, Jong Il-Gwan, Kim Kyong-Il, Pak Chol-Min, Pak Song-Chol and Yun Myong-Song.
Tatung of Chinese Taipei and HTTU Asgabat of Turkmenistan, meanwhile, collide in the second fixture at 7:30 p.m. as action in Group B, considered as the strongest among the group qualifiers, ignite in the football-loving city.
“It’s a really tough group so we need all the support we can get from the homecrowd,” Ceres coach Ali Go said during yesterday’s presscon at Planta Hotel.
Ceres beefed up its roster for the May 6-10 tourney, acquiring Azkals goalkeeper Ed Sacapano and defenders Juani Guirado and Jason Sabio along with fellow nationals Patrick Reichelt and Carli de Murga.
The home squad is hoping to gain from the experience of the acquisitions in its bid to advance to the final stages of the competition for clubs in so-called “emerging nations” in Asia. The additions either played in the AFC Challenge Cup with the Azkals or the previous President’s Cup qualifiers in Cebu with Global FC.
“The team has prepared long and hard for the tournament,” said Ceres owner Leorey Yanson. “Hosting the President’s Cup is a huge honor for the province, but we also want to bring pride and honor to the province by doing well in this tournament. The players understand and are ready to achieve the goals we want to accomplish.”
Although first time participants in the President’s Cup, the powerhouse North Koreans are still considered the team to beat here.