|Ceres' road to the AFC Champions League begins on the road. Mike Romero (file photo)|
By JP Abcede
MANILA--Reigning Philippines Football League champion Ceres begins its AFC Champions League journey in a preliminary round clash against Shan United of Myanmar on Tuesday night at the Thuwanna Stadium in Yangon.
This is the first time the Negros-based club qualified for the tournament. If it wins, it would proceed to Australia to battle Brisbane Roar in the second preliminary round a week later.
In the event they manage to reach the group stage, the Busmen would be on Group E along with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of South Korea and Hong Kong club Kitchee. But first, they have to go through one more play-off, which would be agianst Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian.
Ceres restocked its roster as Mike Ott, who came from Thai club Angthong FC, teams up with brother Manny. Other additions include former JP Voltes regulars Sean Kane and Uesato Takumi, as well as Global defender Amani Aguinaldo. It also secured 37-year old goalkeeper Toni Doblas.
This is in response to Iain Ramsay transferring to FELDA United, striker Fernando leaving for Mitra Kukar, and Joshua Grommen going to Davao Aguilas. Other departures include Kota Kawase, Roland Müller, and Luke Woodland.
Remaining in the club for another tour of duty include keepers Mike Casas and Ed Sacapaño; defenders Super Herrera, Junior Muñoz, Carli de Murga, and Jeffrey Christaens; as well as midfielders Kevin Ingreso, Arnie Pasinabo, Stephan Schröck, Martin Steuble, and Bienve Marañón. Completing the cast are Patrick Reichelt, OJ Porteria, and Omid Nazari.
Shan United won a double last season, emerging on top of both the MPT Myanmar National League and General Aung San Shield. Ceres, on the other hand, emerged as the ASEAN Zone champion before succumbing to Istiklol in the inter-zone playoff semifinal of the 2017 AFC Cup.