CERES-LA SALLE fought fancied Rimyongsu of North Korea to a 2-2 draw on Tuesday night to start its Asian Football Confederation President’s Cup campaign on a positive note at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
Azkals Patrick Reichelt and Juani Guirado shone brightest as the goalscorers for the reigning national club champions, who actually built two one-goal leads before settling for the stalemate.
Still, it was an impressive result for the hosts, who were tipped as the underdogs against a top North Korean side bannered by 2010 World Cup campaigners.
“It could have been better, but we cannot ask for more,” said Ceres coach Ali Go, whose squad is gunning to be the first Philippine club to qualify to the final round of the tournament featuring club teams from emerging Asian footballing nations.
Only the top two teams will advance from Group B, which also has Chinese Taipei’s Tatung and HTTU Asgabat of Turkmenistan.
Global FC, the first club from the country to be invited in the competition, failed to get past the group stage last year.
Guirado, a late reinforcement, unlocked the Rimyongsu defense 10 minutes into the game, when the Filipino-Spanish center-back struck a low free kick that went under the human wall and into the net.
After Rimyongsu equalized six minutes before first-half stoppage time, Reichelt, who signed a two-year contract last February, regained the lead for Ceres four minutes after the restart.
But Ri Kwang Hyok knotted the count for North Korea midway through to salvage the draw.