MANILA, Philippines — National champion Ceres-La Salle has home-field advantage in the AFC President’s Cup, but will have its hands full against what is considered the strongest bracket of the tournament scheduled May 6 to 10 at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
Standing in the way of the Bacolod side in Group B are North Korea’s Rimyongsu, Turkmenistan’s HTTU Ashgabat and Chinese Taipei’s Tatung.
Although a first timer in the tournament, the North Korean side boasts at least six national team players, while the Turkmen are also expected to field a formidable squad that could be composed of AFC Challenge Cup-bound players.
Only two teams will advance to the final round and Ceres needs to beat at least two of the powerhouse sides to stand a chance of progressing in the tournament for clubs in emerging football nations in the continent.
Global represented the country last year but it failed to get past the group stage in Cebu.
“It’s a tough group and we’re hoping that the crowd will help the team pull off upsets,” said Ceres coach Ali Go, whose side currently leads the second division of the United Football League.
“This is a great chance to make the country proud and we will make sure we have a strong and competitive team for the tournament,” said Ceres owner Leorey Yanson.
Ceres, which earned the right to represent the country after winning the Smart Club Championship last year, has strengthened its lineup by signing national players Carli de Murga, Patrick Reichelt and Jason Sabio.
Go said the club has also reached out to Juani Guirado in the hope of getting his services for the tournament.
The two other groups in the President’s Cup will be playing in Sri Lanka and Mongolia, respectively.