WITH a little less than two weeks before this year’s Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President’s Cup kicks off at Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City, Ceres-La Salle FC is in tough preparation against the best squads in Group B.
Representing the Philippines, the Bacolod-based squad is lumped with FC HTTU of Turkmenistan, Tatung Company of Chinese Taipei and the Rimyongsu Club of the People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) during the games from May 6 to 10.
Head coach Ali Bernard Go, in Tuesday's press conference at 21 Bar Restaurant, said they are working hard in their training sessions and doing scrimmages with National Capital Region teams to condition the players for the tournament.
“We have to be well-prepared as we are in a tough group with World Cup caliber North Korea and defending champion Turkmenistan,” he said.
Asked how they find the North Korean squad, Ceres FC Korean technical director Cha Soung Yooung said the team plays like the clubs in the South Korean Super League.
“We don’t have any problem going up against the North as the boys are ready and excited,” Yooung added.
Go presented the pool consisting of 30 players including Koreans Yong Chan Son, Jinho Kim, Kyumson Cho, Hyeon Gwon, Geun Hyeong Park, and Sangmin Kim;
Kevin Capolei, Younesse Yaogo, Samson Olaniyi, Casas, Michael, Camelo Tacusalme, Jayson Panhay, Jason Cordova, Arnie Pasinabo, Jr., J Baguioro, Hanesin Prince Antony, Lemuel Unabia, Tom Booth, Olapido Okunaiya, Jalsor Soriano, William Gueridonn, Joshua Beloya, Angelo Marasigan;
Carlito de Murga, Patrick Reichelt, Angeles twins Marwin and Marvin, newcomer Jason Sabio, and on-loan players defender Juani Guirado and keeper Eduard Sacapaño.
Sabio, as a new member of the club, said that his experience playing against Turkmenistan and Chinese Taipei can be a big help to the team.
Our goal here is to win,” said the Fil-Am defender.
Bago City native and Azkals veteran keeper Sacapaño said that he’s happy to play again for Negros.
“It’s my pride to play for my hometown and with my experience, I can help the team. This is a team effort. Whatever we can contribute is vital for the team. All we have to do here is share our knowledge and experience to achieve our goal,” he said.
Local Organizing Committee (LOC) chairman Nicolas Golez again made his appeal to the Bacolodnons and Negrenses to show their support to the tournament and the home team.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to display our patriotism as Ceres-La Salle FC will not only represent Bacolod and the province, but the Philippines,” he added.
Golez also said the LOC is working double time to ensure that the Panaad Park and Stadium will not only be ready for the tournament but will also meet the requirements set by the AFC.
Aside from a huge facelift of main stadium facilities, the LOC also focused on keeping its football pitch green in time for the tournament.
“We are also maintaining our practice venues at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos and the Ceres-La Salle FC Mandalagan field,” he added.
“We have also installed hundreds of mounted seats for VIPs at the main stadium which is also among the AFC requirements for hosting the event,” Golez added.