Ceres-Negros FC claimed the 2017 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal title last Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Home United FC of Singapore at the Panaad Park and Stadium.
The win made Ceres FC the first Filipino club to conquer the ASEAN region.
As regional champions, the club carries the entire ASEAN region on its shoulders as it enters the AFC Inter-Zonal semi-finals against FC Istikol of Tajikistan on August 22.
Additionally, aside from Ceres FC fans, football fans from across the region, including Malaysia, Vietnam, and Singapore, have thrown their support behind the Negrense club.
Earning the respect of our ASEAN counterparts was not an overnight process; it took hard work, beginning in 2012, to attain that respect.
For Man of the Match Stephan Schröck, he said the entire team gave everything they had during the second leg.
“We put in the performance of our lives,” he said. “We deserved 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,” the midfielder added.
When asked about his performance, Schröck said he was proving his place.
“I had to prove that I deserved to start because my teammates have been sacrificing the past six months to get us to this stage,” he said. “It was a very important game and I’m just honored to be given a starting place.”
Ceres FC now turns their focus from Philippine representation to ASEAN – making more history in Asian football.
Also on Wednesday, Gilas Pilipinas beat defending FIBA Asia Cup champions China, 96-87, during this year’s opener in Beirut, Lebanon.
Fans could be witnessing history in the making, as the Philippines have made the finals of the tournament twice in a row, in 2013 and 2015, where they lost to Iran and China respectively.
Meanwhile, playing without naturalized player Andray Blatch, the Filipinos are showing their ‘puso’ character./WDJ