Ceres makes history

CERES Negros earned its niche in football history after beating Singapore’s Home United, 2-0, in the second leg of the Asean Zone final of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup 2017 on Wednesday night at the Panaad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City.

The Busmen shook off the stigma of their 1-2 loss in the opener and made sure they won’t disappoint close to 8,000 fans that packed their home pitch.

OJ Porteria and Manuel Ott delivered the goals to beat Home United in the series with a 3-2 aggregate and book a date with Central Asia Zone champion FC Istikol of Tajikistan in the Inter-Zone Semifinals starting on August 22.

The Negros-based team opened scoring right in the second minute when Porteria scored from six yards courtesy of a cross by Iain Ramsay.

After Spaniard Fernando Rodriguez missed 12 minutes later, Ott delieverd a wonderful free kick in the 42nd minute for a 2-0 count.

Ceres focused on defense in the second half to preserve its lead with Home United’s leading scorer Stipe Plazibat missing in the 83rd minute thanks to Ceres goal keeper Roland Muller.

“After the match, the players were crying on the pitch because we left it all out there,” Stephan Schrock told the AFC web site. “We put in the performance of our life in this final. We deserve to make history for the club, the country and Southeast Asia. We have very good support here and we’re very proud to represent this city.”

Philippine Football Federation President Mariano Araneta and General Secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes hailed Ceres-Negros for its historic achievement.

“We are honored with what Ceres-Negros FC have done for Philippine football,” Araneta said. “We wish them luck in the AFC Cup Inter-zone semifinals.”