By Jerome S. Galunan Jr.
The long vacation is over for Bacolod-based and multi-titled Ceres-La Salle FC as they returned to their regular training yesterday as part of their preparation to defend their Philippine Football Federation (PFF)-Smart Club Championship title, for the third time, on the last week of January.
The reigning back-to-back champion will lead the eight teams in the final round of the competition scheduled on January 22 to 31 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Among other teams that qualified in this round are defending United Football League champion Global FC, Loyola-Meralco FC, Kaya FC, Stallion FC, Laos FC, University of Cebu-Erco, and M’Lang FC.
The Stallion side will be representing Iloilo; the Laos FC and University of Cebu-Erco will banner the Leyte and Cebu football associations;andM’Lang FC of North Cotabato will be Mindanao’s lone qualifier.
Meanwhile, the other four teams are the Top 4 teams during the recent FA League Cup.
These eight teams will be grouped into two, with the top two from each bracket advancing to the crossover finals.
Club director Ali Go, earlier, hinted that they might have some new players coming in as Fil-Spanish Carlide Murgais injured and needs replacement.
“As of the moment we are still negotiating with some players. We might get one foreigner and a Filipino,” he stressed.
Moreover, Ceres-La Salle FC is set to face Maziya Sports and Recreation of Maldives this February 17 at the latter’s home turf for the Asian Football Confederation Cup Playoff.
The winner of this match will join Group E alongside India’s Bengaluru, PersipuraJayapura of Indonesia, and Warriors of Singapore./