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Ceres-Negros up against heavyweight

Game Today
(Tianjian, China)
3:30 p.m. – Tianjin vs Ceres

Ceres-Negros tries to do the unthinkable when it takes on fancied Tianjin Quanjian for a spot in the AFC Champions League in the final stage of the qualifiers today in Tianjin, China.

The inaugural Philippines Football League champion, which made this far after hard-fought wins in the first two qualifying rounds, will have to be in their fiercer form in order to stun the Chinese Super League side in the 3:30 p.m. match.

Tianjin carries a huge advantage over Ceres with the club led by former AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato, Belgian international Axel Witsel and Frenchman Anthony Modeste. Coaching the club is Fabio Canavaro, a former Manila visitor and member of Italy’s 2006 World Cup winning side.

Ceres hopes to have enough muster to stun Tianjin and become the first Filipino club to reach the Champions League level.

The Busmen have worked their magic on the road since the qualifiers began two weeks ago, defeating Myanmar’s Shan United, 4-3, on penalties in Yangon before shocking Aussie club Brisbane Roar, 3-2, the following week.

“It’s a big team and of course we respect them,” Ceres’ Omid Nazari told the AFC’s official website. “They have some big players that everyone knows about and they’re used to playing these games, so of course we have a lot of respect for them as a team.

“But at the same time, now we’ve beaten Brisbane and we’re flying with a lot of confidence and belief in ourselves,” added the Fil-Iranian midfielder.

Nazari will be among the players Serbian Risto Vidakovic will tap for Ceres’ upset bid along with Spanish striker Bienvenido Maranon, Stephan Schrock, Mike Ott and Tony Dobias.

A loss relegates Ceres to the AFC Cup where it is already assured of a spot in Group F together with Shan United, Singapore’s Home United and Cambodia’s Boeungket Angkor.

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