On Jan. 21, 2019 t at 8 p.m. Ceres Negros FC will be facing Port FC, a strong, resurgent Thai team the Philippine squad knows little about.
Though it will be its first time to compete in the AFC Champions League preliminaries, Port FC isn’t exactly the new kid on the Southeast Asean football block.
The Thai club was founded in 1967. That’s more than half a century ago, a good 45 years older than Ceres that only came to be in 2012.
But its decades of existence isn’t what makes Port a dangerous side.
Truth is, the Port Lions are a club reborn, following a spiel of debilitating mismanagement and legal disputes that began in 2011, and culminating with the side’s relegation from the Thai Premier League to Division 1 in 2016.
If their performances over the last three years are an indication, the Port Lions are quite a hungry pack.
They have suddenly become serious title contenders in Thailand’s top tier, having finished third in the last two seasons, their best performance in the league since 2002.
Port ended the 2019 season with a bang by winning the Thai FA Cup title, exactly 10 years after it first won the competition.
This makes tonight’s encounter between Port FC and the Busmen, the second round of the ACL prelims, a potentially riveting battle of champions.
Ceres, the Philippines Football League champions in the last three years and Copa Paulino Alcantara 2019 cup holders, though, seem like the underdogs against the Port Lions.
To make its knockout away match even tougher, Ceres will be facing one of Thailand’s best home crowds in PAT Stadium in Bangkok.
If there’s one thing going the Busmen’s way, it’s their wealth of experience when it comes to facing dangerous sides in hostile soil, with close to two dozen away matches in the last five years.
Formidable and skilled as they are, the Port Lions know only of adversaries within familiar territory.
Ceres’s potent attacking play can exploit the opposing club’s inexperience at this level, but it needs to shore up its defenses against this dangerous pack of hungry lions.
January 21, 2020
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