A battling performance from Ceres-Negros wasn’t enough to overcome a star-studded Tianjin Quianjian side last Tuesday as the Busmen fell, 0-2, in their AFC Champions League playoff at Tianjin Olympic Stadium.
French striker Anthony Modeste scored a goal in each half as Tianjin clinched a spot in the group stage, while relegating the Philippines Football League champions to the AFC Cup.
Arriving just 12 hours before kickoff in the city just outside the capital Beijing due to visa issues, the Busmen showed no fear against the Chinese powerhouse and even had the match’s first big chance courtesy of Stephan Schrock.
Released by a fine ball from Mike Ott, Schrock’s close-range effort was saved by Chinese keeper Zhang Lou in the 13th minute as the Busmen coped well with the freezing conditions.
The Busmen looked the more threatening side in the early stages minutes, before the strong and powerful Modeste broke the deadlock with a header off a corner kick in the 19th minute.
Ott also had a great chance five minutes after the restart when Zhang missed a clearance, before the ball fell to the diminutive Ceres winger, who couldn’t get power on the effort.
Seven minutes later, Modeste made it 2-0, finishing clinically past Toni Doblas after picking up a through ball from Alexandre Pato.
The second goal hardly put a dent on the Busmen’s confidence as they pressed on in search for a goal. Battling Belgian star Axel Witsel at midfield, Schrock hardly looked out of place with his pace and quality standing out in a match controlled by Tianjin.
Ceres had another big chance in the 89th minute when Schrock’s cross found the back post, but an unmarked Bienvenido Maranon couldn’t get contact on the ball with the goal at his mercy.
Despite the loss, the Busmen’s run that included wins over Shan United of Myanmar and Australia’s Brisbane Roar proved historic as they are still the first Filipino side to come this close of reaching the group stage.
Ceres now shifts its attention to the AFC Cup, where the Busmen, who are also reigning Asean zone champions, will face the winner of the playoff between Lao Toyotaand Boeung Ket Angkor of Cambodia in the group stage starting Feb. 13 in Bacolod City.
The Philippines Football League 2018 season promises to provide an exciting affair as the PFL held its second Club Committee meeting with the six participating clubs ahead of the start of the season last Friday 26 January 2018 at the PFF House of Football in Pasig City.
The Committee is comprised of the Clubs participating in the PFL.
Important topics were on the agenda, including league format, fixtures and the proposed PFL Cup Competition which will be introduced this season. Clubs were also briefed on the ongoing adoption of the PFL’s strategic plans with emphasis on developing long term marketing targets.
Recommendations from the Committee will be brought before the LFI Board of Directors for approval. The LFI Board of Directors will meet on 30 January 2018.
“The PFL and the six clubs must continuously work together in this coming PFL season,” said PFL Chief Executive Officer Lazarus J. Xavier. “This upcoming season promises to improve on a lot of aspects with key emphasis in establishing a strategic plan with a defined vision and mission for the league”
Philippines Football League champion Ceres-Negros’ unexpected victory over Brisbane Roar in the AFC Champions League has left the club with a difficult challenge of securing a visa.
The Busmen have been forced to delay their departure to China for a day, leaving them with little time to prepare and acclimatize for their playoff match with Chinese Super League powerhouse Tianjin Quianjian slated Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.
Club officials are hoping to get the Busmen’s visas by noon on Monday that will enable them to immediately fly to Tianjin via Hong Kong or Beijing.
As if playing the Chinese side teeming with world class players is not enough, Ceres will also play amid freezing conditions.
The Busmen returned from Australia on Thursday night after stunning Brisbane Roar, 3-2, at Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre.
Scott McIntyre investigates how Ceres-Negros’ quest to qualify for the AFC Champions League could now be out of their control.
Just days after their stunning AFC Champions League qualification victory over Brisbane Roar, Ceres-Negros’ hopes of reaching the group stage hang by a thread as they remain stuck in limbo in the Philippines – unable to obtain the visas they need to travel to China for Tuesday’s final qualifier.
The club has claimed that they’ve appealed to various bodies for help but with none forthcoming, they’ve called upon the AFC to postpone the match against Tianjin Quanjian to ensure that it’s played on an ‘equal’ level.
Having applied for the necessary travel documents at the Chinese embassy in Manila immediately upon their return from Australia they were informed that there wasn’t enough time to process them before the weekend, meaning that the earliest they can secure the visas would be on Monday.
Even if they are processed by then – and the club is not confident that will happen – it means the Ceres squad would need to catch an overnight flight to China, go without sleep or a training session and then play the biggest match in their – and their nation’s – history that same afternoon.
Speaking exclusively with FOX Sports Asia, Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic, termed the situation ‘crazy.’
“I think there’s not enough time – it was a ten hour trip from Australia back to the Philippines and when we arrived it was already Friday,” said Vidakovic.
“The Chinese embassy told us that they needed all the passports to process the visas and that, because it was Friday, they said they didn’t have enough time to give us the visas until after the weekend.
“That means if we get those visas on Monday we then must travel overnight and we will arrive on the matchday and without sleeping or anything and we have to go and play the game.
“This is a bad condition and difficult to compete so it’s a big problem how to organise everything to get there on time and play the game.”
With a best-case situation seeing Ceres arrive in the arctic conditions of Tianjin on Tuesday morning that would give them perhaps as little as seven or eight hours before kickoff.
Vidakovic called that ‘suicide’ for his team and implored the AFC to delay the game so that both clubs can compete on a more even footing – bearing in mind the extensive travel that the lower-ranked team already has to endure just to get to this stage.
He added: “Of course we need more time and they have to understand that we came from another continent and then going to China we have less than one week to prepare visas and prepare everything.
“We also need to think that we have to prepare the right equipment for this kind of match, it’s minus-11 there in China and in the Philippines it’s 35 degrees and everything is different so we need more time to compete in the same conditions as them and that’s only fair.”
“We’ve tried to contact many people, including in the government here, to get the visas, but there’s no possibility and the problem now is we need to try and postpone the game.
“Only the AFC or the ACL organisers can help us and the only possibility to compete in the same, fair, conditions is to move the game one or two days later.”
However, on Sunday evening, an AFC spokesperson responding the queries by FOX Sports Asiaclarified that the onus was on the club to ensure all proper documentation was in order.
“Based on provisions of the ACL Regulations and Competition Operations Manual, each Club (and its Member Association), at their own expense, are solely responsible throughout the Competition for obtaining visas to enter the territory of a Host Association,” said the statement from the AFC.
“Each Club must apply for all necessary visas for their Team Official Delegation no later than thirty (30) days prior to each match played outside its territory. This obligation includes potential away Matches, taking into account successful qualification for a further stage of a Competition.”
“Ceres did not apply for a visa ahead of their AFC Preliminary stage game in Brisbane. Since the issue was recognised on Wednesday morning, AFC has worked tirelessly with the Chinese Football Association to ensure visas are available as soon as possible so the match can go ahead as scheduled.”
This story now runs the very real risk of overshadowing the historic 3-2 victory in Brisbane earlier in the week where Vidakovic noted that he felt the A-League club had ‘underestimated’ his side.
“In football nothing is impossible – it was very difficult of course because nobody believed, even us, and we thought that we were just enjoying this competition without good preparation because it’s very difficult to compete with clubs at a high level that are already in their season,” explained the Serb.
“It was a surprise for everyone but if I look back and watch the game again I can say we deserved the win.
“We gave them problems with the transitions and we defended well and counter-attacked fast and that gave us the advantage in a match where the intensity wasn’t so high.
“We thought they would push more early in the second half but they’d didn’t do that and our defence was very good at that point and I think it was normal that they underestimated us before the match, that’s normal and it’s not easy to motivate your players when you play smaller clubs and before the game everyone expects you to score a lot of goals with a relaxed atmosphere.”
Should the game go ahead as scheduled, the winner will then join Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Kitchee and the winner of the Kashiwa Reysol-Muangthong United playoff to complete Group E.
The second part of the Philippines Football League Club Workshop has begun with the Club Marketing Workshop currently being held from 25-26 January 2018 at the PFF House of Football in Pasig City.
The Club Marketing Workshop is the second phase of the three-fold workshop in which the first part was focusing on Club Registration and the introduction of the Online Competition Management System. The third phase will focus on Match Organization.
Clubs were individually briefed on the current marketing trends within football and the best practices that can be applied in the Philippine setting.
Handling the club workshop is AFC consultant Mr. Kentaro Hiyoshi.
“Club marketing is a crucial part of running a professional club,” said PFL Chief Executive Officer Lazarus J. Xavier. “In order to sustain a professional club, clubs must exhaust all means of marketing efforts to raise the standard of the sport in the country.”
Having only earned promotion from China League One at the end of 2016, few expected Tianjin Quanjian to make the impact they did in 2017, finishing third in their first season in the Chinese Super League.
With Alexandre Pato, Anthony Modeste and Axel Witsel, they possess a potent attacking line up that is complemented by Chinese internationals Wang Yongpo, Yang Xu and Sun Ke. Importantly, the squad remains largely the same as 2017, so they will be hoping to pick up where they left off.
While Fabio Cannavaro, who led the team to promotion and their success last season, has since departed, former Fiorentina coach Paulo Sousa is a more than capable replacement as he targets even loftier goals this season.
Few people expected Ceres-Negros to make it this far, especially after they struggled past Myanmar champions Shan United in the first preliminary round.
But their win over Australia’s Brisbane Roar will go down in the history books and be spoken about at the club for decades to come. Far from a plucky, defensive, backs-to-the-wall performance, Ceres-Negros took the game to Brisbane Roar and fully deserved their win. Importantly, after conceding the first goal they didn’t panic, and they were rewarded with a deserved equaliser just before half time.
Maranon, who was a star for Ceres-Negros in their AFC Cup campaign last year, showed his predatory instincts with two quality goals either side of half time, while Stephan Schröck produced another masterful display in midfield, highlighting just how important the German-born midfielder is to this team.
BRISBANE, Australia – Ceres-Negros arrived in Brisbane Sunday morning ahead of Tuesday AFC Champions League Qualifier against A-League side Brisbane Roar.
Just a few days removed from their conquest in Myanmar, the team split into two groups and to took different flights to the land down under where they will attempt to make history and reach the third round of qualifying for the competition.
Ceres veteran Martin Steuble was one of the few players who took the longer trip via a Sydney en route to the Queensland capital.
“There’s no other way to get here but we’re happy that we made it. I think we are confident enough that we will have a good game,” said the Ceres midfielder.
Michael Casas was with the group who took the Darwin pit stop and Ceres keeper was thankful for arriving safe after a turbulent first leg of the trip.
“It was a long flight and our first was tiring because the plane was small and full so everyone cannot sleep. We flew for 4-5 hours and then we gladly transferred from Darwin to Brisbane. That’s where we slept for three hours,” said Casas.
With the team reunited in Brisbane, the proceeded to do receovery training early evening at a training ground beside the Rugby-specific Ballymore Stadium. The Negros shook off the long travel with a fruitful training session after the very long journey.
“It was light workout but it helped well in the recovery after a long day,” said Nessi Ramos. “It prepared us well for tomorrows high intensity training leading to Tuesday’s game,” he added.
The Busmen will take on the Roar on January 23rd at the QSAC stadium at the southern outskirts of the capital city. The match is set to kickoff at 730pm with updates to given via the Ceres-Negros Facebook and Twitter page.
Global Cebu FC has signed up nifty attackers Curt Jordan Dizon and Daniel Gadia to beef up its lineup for the upcoming Philippines Football League (PFL) wars.
Gadia is the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 78 Most Valuable Player in the men’s football tournament. He signed the contract with Global Cebu FC last Tuesday.
The 22-year old midfielder played for the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons during his collegiate years. In early 2013, he got drafted for the national team to play in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Under-19 Youth Championship and proceeded for the 2014 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup Under-19 Championship qualifiers.
In 2014, Gadia played in the United Football League (UFL) where he saw action with Pachanga Diliman Football Club before transferring in 2016 to the defunct FC Meralco Manila which was then known as Loyola Sparks.
Meanwhile, the 23-year old Dizon confirmed his transfer to Global Cebu last Wednesday.
Dizon molded his football talent at the Crystal Palace youth academy and by playing with Gimnastica Segoviana CF in Spain during the early part of his football career.
In 2014, he got the call of duty from the national team and decided to side with Global at the same time.
In 2015, he joined the national team’s under-23 squad in their campaign for the 2016 AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers. He also transferred to the Loyola Sparks this year.
“I can’t wait to get out there,” Dizon shared on Global Cebu FC’s official facebook page. “I want to thank Global for giving me this opportunity and hopefully we can continue to make history,” he added.
Ilocos United Football Club has today decided to withdraw from the Philippines Football League (PFL) for the 2018 season.
Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful. Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL. Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.
The Club, our players, coaches, staff, and management, wish to extend our deepest gratitude to our supporter base around the country for its fervent and unwavering support throughout our 2017 campaign. We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.
In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.
We wish the PFL continued growth and urge that the nation joins us in continuing to support the development of the beautiful game in the Philippines.
Please follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news and updates from IUFC.
The Philippine Men’s National Team will host Tajikistan in the final match of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Qualifiers on 27 March 2018 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.
The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) formally received the confirmation from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on the venue.
The Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental was earlier nominated to host the final Group F home match between the Philippines and Tajikistan. However, due to difficulties in securing fully-equipped training venues, the venue was moved to the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
“We announce that the AFC has approved the PFF’s request to move the final match of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers back to Manila,” said PFF president Mariano V. Araneta Jr. “This match will be a crucial match as it will decide the Philippine Men’s National Team’s chances of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup.”
The last Asian Cup Qualifiers match played in home soil was the 2-2 draw against Yemen last 5 September 2017 at the Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium. The Philippines won their first match match of the Asian Cup Qualifiers in Manila with a 4-1 win against Nepal.
The Philippines lead Group F with 9 points while Tajikistan are in third with 7 points going to the final match of the qualifiers. The Philippines only needs a draw to qualify for the Asian Cup, but it will have to do so against a determined Tajikistan squad.
“We hope all football stakeholders and supporters rally behind the Men’s National Team,” added Araneta. “Qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 will be a historic moment in Philippine football.”
Ticket details for the match will be announced soon.
Ceres-Negros FC will battle Shan United in the preliminary round of the prestigious AFC Champions League on January 16 at the Thuwanna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
The Negros-based club qualified for the competition after winning the inaugural edition of the Philippines Football League and will now attempt to rewrite club history with a victory in Asia’s elite club competition.
“For us its a historic moment,” said Ceres-Negros Coach Risto Vidakovic. “It’s the first time we’ll play in the AFC Champions League.
“We’re just in the pre-season and maybe have three training sessions. We are not prepared but we will try our best,” added Vidakovic whose team is just a month removed from winning the league.
“Like Coach Risto said we had three training sessions but mentally we were preparing for a long time for this game already,” said Ceres midfielder Stephan Schröck. “I think we will give you a good quality performance even though we’ve just been training for one week.”
The club started training last January 10 in Bacolod and have maintained their form in the short break after the PFL final.
Ceres-Negros will have to beat Shan United to face Brisbane Roar on the the next qualifying round of the continental tournament. Should they beat the A-League side, they will meet Tianjin Quanjian on the final match to reach the group stage of the competition.
The match is set at 4PM local time (530PM PH time) with the game streamed live at the Pyone Play facebook page.
Panaad Stadium to get a facelift in time for second PFL season
BY NIDA A. BUENAFE
At least a thousand more chairs will be added to the main grandstand of the Panaad Stadium as Ceres-Negros FC works at improving the facility to meet the standards set by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for the hosts of international matches.
Club officials Warren Concepcion said that the installation of more chairs is part of the ongoing process to ensure that matches scheduled by the AFC will be conducted as planned.
“We are in the process of ensuring that all the AFC standards will be met, maybe not in the perfection as FIFA AFC deemed it to be but we will see to it that our organization will meet them halfway,” Concepcion said.
He added that the present lightings at the Panaad Stadium has already passed the AFC standards and they are about to start the renovation in the locker rooms and the installation of more chairs in the main grandstand.
April last year, the provincial government of Negros Occidental appropriated P40 million for the purchase and installation of new lights at the stadium.
With the Ceres-Negros FC assured of a spot in the 2018 AFC Cup qualifiers after winning the inaugural title of the Philippines Football League last year, home games of the team will be once again played at the stadium.
The team also advanced to the preliminary round of the AFC Champions League and will play against Shan United of Myanmar on Jan. 16. A win for the Busmen against Myanmar will propel them forward to the next round against Australia, and, in the third round, against China.
The Philippines Football League is looking for applicants in the following positions:
1. Head of Finance
2. Head of Legal
3. Head of Marketing
4. Media Officer
5. Head of Competitions
6. Competitions Executive
Send CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Ott is one of the many big names to sign for Ceres-Negros this year. The current Azkals player is looking forward to the new season with his new club who will start their campaign in a few days time.
The younger Ott had a few practices in the bag after arriving with his teammates in Bacolod last January 10 and the Philippine champions already left an impression after a couple of days.
“Ceres here (in the Philippines) is one of the best clubs, last year they were the best club,” said the 22-year old attacker. “They have a good team here, so many good players. The coaching staff is very good. Everything about the club is very good, the standard is very high”
The Filipino international is setting a high standard for himself especially now with the new challenge of continental competition. “I wanna play a good season. Like now in the AFC, I want to play good in the first games but I’m not looking so far ahead. I’m looking at every week to get fit and prepare myself to be in a very good shape.”
Ott is also excited to work at club level with his older brother Manny who has been a veteran of the squad since 2014. “We have a chance to play together like in the Azkals and that’s very good,” said the former Angthong FC player.
“I’m looking forward to give my quality to my new club. Play together and give everything for the club. I’m looking forward to the season,” he added
Ott doesn’t have to wait long for his debut as Ceres-Negros is set to play Shan United in Yangon, Myanmar on January 16.
IF things fall into place, the long-awaited arrival of Iloilo in the Philippines Football League (PFL) might just be around the corner.
A partnership between Kaya Football Club and Iloilo is already in the works and awaiting an agreement. A source confirmed the fabled club has formally submitted a proposal to the province early Wednesday.
According to the source, Kaya was represented by general manager Paul Tolentino and Iloilo-based players Joven Bedic and Shirmar Felongco during the meeting with Iloilo governor Art Defensor.
This was later confirmed by a Facebook post of Dr. Raul Banias, the provincial administrator of Iloilo, saying they were tasked to study the proposal of the club.
If the move pushes through, Kaya will move to the recognized football capital of the Philippines, playing home games at the Iloilo Sports Complex in La Paz, Iloilo City.
For so long recognized as the football hotbed of the Philippines, Iloilo was surprisingly left out when the PFL launched its home-and-away season in May of 2017.
Read more at http://www.spin.ph/football/news/kaya-fc-iloilo-philippines-football-league#b8CemFYe1LDheSJE.99
Ceres-Negros FC formally announces the signing of Mike Rigoberto Ott for the forthcoming 2018 season.
The versatile attacker brings with him a wealth of experience after being part of the second teams of 1860 Munich and FC Nurnberg before moving last year to Thailand’s Angthong United.
He earned his first cap for the Philippine national team in 2016 and has been a keen contributor since. His equalizer in last October’s Asian Cup qualifying match versus Yemen saved the Azkals from blushes and kept their unbeaten streak in the tournament.
Filipino international defender Amani Aguinaldo officially completed his move to Philippine Champions Ceres-Negros last January 5. The prized defender completed his contract with Global Cebu in 2017 but only received his release papers late last week.
The 23-year old has already earned 31 caps for the national team and has been a veteran of the Philippine leagues and the AFC Cup. Amani has been a vital cog to Global since 2013 and has heavily contributed to their success in the last few years.
The veteran is expected to feature for the Busmen in the middle of the year as he is currently recovering from a knee injury. Aguinaldo is a welcome addition to the defending champions who are keen to retain their league title in 2018 and venture to new heights in continental competition.
MANILA, Philippines – FC Meralco Manila announced on the evening of Monday, January 8, that they will not be participating in the second season of the Philippines Football League (PFL) as the team will officially be folding up.
"Circumstances beyond our control have made it difficult for FC Meralco Manila to continue. The board and management of the Sparks have tried to arrange for new investors that would keep the organization running, but those efforts have sadly fallen short," read the statement.
Announcements regarding the club's Youth Academy will be made soon according to the same statement.
Team leaders including Azkal Curt Dizon, former Azkals Simon Greatwich and Daniel Gadia will be seeking new teams as Meralco's management is currently helping their players find new clubs ideally before the PFL transfer window closes in mid-February.
"The management of the team is currently in the process of searching for new teams for our players. These amazing athletes and people deserve to continue plying their trade, and we will do all in our power to find them new clubs."
In 2011, Meralco took over the club that was originally founded as the Loyola Agila FC, changing its name to Loyola Meralco Sparks FC. The club's first major success was winning the United Football League (UFL) Cup in 2013. A year later, Loyola Meralco Sparks won the PFF National Men's Club Championship.
In the inaugural season of the PFL, FC Meralco finished with the best record and secured the first seed heading into the PFL Finals Series. The club lost 3-2 aggregate to Global Cebu FC on a home and away semi-finals format.
If PFL champions Ceres-Negros FC qualifies for the 2018 AFC Champions League, Meralco would have secured their first AFC Cup berth as a result of their bronze medal finish in the 2017 PFL. – Rappler.com
BIÑAN—A Filipino-Iranian striker headlines Stallion Laguna's preseason acquisitions ahead of the upcoming PFL wars tentatively starting this February.
Club president and head coach Ernie Nierras told Dugout Philippines on Saturday after the first day of Laguna's open tryouts at the Biñan Football Stadium that the team signed Farbod Mahmudi.
The 22-year-old Mahmudi previously played for Juventus Sao Paulo's youth team in 2014.
However, don't expect him to quickly suit up for Laguna once the season begins.
"Right now, he's still in Iran. He should be here sometime in April when he's ready from his team," said Nierras.
However, there will still be new faces for Laguna at the season kickoff as he announced that former Ateneo player Anton Amistoso will join its first team after spending some time with the second team and that it also signed Japanese player Ken Kensei.
"He's here already. He attended the first tryouts," Nierras said of Kensei.
He also bared that the club is close to signing a centerback that will backstop Ko Kyung-Joon
Meanwhile, the core of the team that came close to stealing a spot in the Final Four following a late surge led by skipper Balut Doctora, super striker Jhan-Jhan Melliza, ace goalie Bitoy Rosalia, and foreign players Carlo Polli and Ko, who will rejoin the team following a brief spell in Vietnam, will stay for the new season.