BACOLOD CITY -- Ceres-Negros FC club owner Leo Rey Yanson has lauded his squad’s feat of reclaiming the number one position in the latest Asian Football Confederation (AFC) club rankings in Southeast Asia.
“The (top) ranking is really a reward for the hard work and sacrifices of the players and coaching staff,” Yanson said in a statement on Thursday.
The Bacolod-based club, which has ruled the Philippines Football League (PFL) for three successive years since 2017, recently concluded its impressive qualifying run in the AFC Champions League (ACL).
Ceres-Negros, mentored by Risto Vidakovic, went on to overtake Thailand’s Buriram United in the rankings after the latter lost in its playoff match against Shanghai Shenhua last Tuesday.
The Filipino club bowed to FC Tokyo, 0-2, on Tuesday after winning its first two games against Shan United of Myanmar, 3-2, and Thailand’s Port FC, 1-0.
The twin wins earned Ceres-Negros 5.5 ranking points, which brought its total to 40.75. Buriram only had 40.67 after collecting an initial three points this year.
“Our last three matches – even against FC Tokyo – showed that the level of the Philippines is improving,” Yanson said.
He acknowledged the Philippine Football Federation, the other PFL clubs, and the supporters for ensuring the league’s continuous run.
“Ceres would not have reached this position if not for (them). We share this honor with all of them. It’s also a call for everyone to support the league and Philippine football,” Yanson said. “The club has gone through so much in the past year, but the coaches and the players have shown a lot of character to keep going.”
After ending its stint in the ACL, the Busmen will return to the AFC Cup in less than two weeks.
“We are hoping for another successful campaign in the AFC Cup this year,” he said.
The Philippine squad is lumped with Indonesian champions Bali United, Than Quang Ninh of Vietnam, and Cambodia’s Svey Rieng in Group G of the ASEAN Zone.
Ceres-Negros will face Svey Rieng in the opener at Rizal Memorial Stadium on February 11. (PNA)