By Cedelf P. Tupas
Bacolod side Ceres guns for a third straight crown in the Philippine Football Federation Smart National Club Championship that has been rescheduled to Jan. 22 to 31 at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Initially slated Jan. 15 to 24, the final round of the tournament has been postponed to a later date due to the visit of Pope Francis in Manila, PFF general secretary Edwin Gastanes said yesterday.
Ceres headlines the eight team cast in the final round which will also include fellow United Football League sides Global, Loyola Meralco and Kaya. Another UFL side, Stallion is also entered as the Iloilo qualifier while Laos FC will represent Leyte after surviving a grueling qualifying phase.
University of Cebu-Erco will be the Cebu representative while M’Lang FC is the lone bet from Mindanao, representing North Cotabato.
The eight teams will be drawn into two groups with the top two from each bracket advancing to the crossover finals.
Ceres, which is making its debut in the first division of the UFL, has won the last two editions of the tournament, beating Pasargad in 2013 and Global later that year.
But with the PFF increasing the UFL presence, Ceres is expected to have its hands full as Global, Kaya and Loyola are all expected to come out strong in the tournament.
Global in particular will be aching to get back at Ceres, which beat the reigning UFL league champions in the Football Alliance League Cup late last year.
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