BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Philippine premier league Ceres-Negros is not taking Myanmar champion Shan United lightly as it prepares for its first match with the team 14 January at Rizal Memorial Stadium for the Asian Football Champions League’s preliminary stage matches.
“We have experience playing against Shan United; it’s a dangerous team so we really have to prepare for them,” club administrator Nicolas Golez said in a press release.
The Busmen aren’t taking the Myanmar League champions lightly as they look to progress further in the continent’s most prestigious club competition following an early exit last year.
The Busmen report back to training this week under coach Risto Vidakovic following a trophy-laden campaign last season.
“It’s important for us to start the season strong,” club administrator Golez was quoted as saying in the release.
“A great result to start the year can set the tone for us and lay the foundation for a really successful campaign,” he also said.
A couple of newcomers in Mark Hartmann and Pika Minegishi and returnees Arnie Pasinabo and Josh Grommen are all looking to make an impact as the club aims for more trophies this year.
Back to fuel the Busmen’s drive are AFC Cup top scorer Bienvenido Marañón and Southeast Asian Best XI awardee Stephan Schrock, who is coming off his finest season yet, the release added.
Super Herrera and goalkeeper Roland Muller are also returning, providing experience in defense.
Mid-season signings last season, James Younghusband, Robert Mendy and Takashi Odawara have also proven their worth with strong performances last year.
Mike Ott, OJ Porteria, Jeff Christiaens, Junior Muñoz, Dennis Villanueva, Sean Kane, Angelo Marasigan, Dylan De Bruycker, Tristan Robles, Ron Bayan and Jun Badelic are also expected to step up for the Busmen.
The season starts with the duel against Shan, a team that Ceres has beaten twice in the AFC Cup last year.
Shan also lost to Ceres on penalties in the Champions League preliminary round two years ago in Yangon.