CERES-La Salle seeks to validate its lofty status as the country's top football club as it takes on vengeful Global FC in the Finals of the Philippine Football Federation-Smart National Club Championships starting with the first leg on Thursday at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
The giant killer who emerged as the champion last season at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, the Bacolod-based Ceres tries to defend the crown against a worthy challenger in Global, the powerhouse squad that has come up with premature finishes in recent major competitions.
Now, Ceres even has the home crowd behind it as it tries to prove its last conquest was no fluke.
But Global, the Azkals-laden squad which was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the United Football League Cup last month and finished as bridesmaid in the UFL League earlier this year, aims to finally live up to great expectations.
Kickoff is at 3 p.m. with both teams hoping for a morale-boosting opening victory in the two-legged series.
It will be the first meeting between the two teams since January during the last edition of the national tournament where Global wound up as one of Ceres’ victims after being eliminated in the quarterfinals with a 0-1 loss.
To arrange the finals matchup, Ceres thrashed Benguet State, 16-1, on aggregate in the semifinals, while Global blanked Flame United, 9-0, in their own Final Four pairing.