CERES-LA Salle and Kaya FC aim to make a good first impression in the international scene when they make their Asian Football Confederation Cup debuts against separate opponents on Tuesday.
Ceres hosts Malaysia powerhouse Selangor at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City, before Kaya takes on Kitchee of Hong Kong in opponents’ turf.
Almost missing a spot in the group stage after a loss to Maldivian side Maziya in a playoff last year, Ceres gained an outright berth this year after ruling the United Football League and the Busmen are cherishing their second chance.
“We really prepared hard and this is our chance to prove where Philippine football is right now,” Ceres stand-in coach Franklin Muescan said ahead of the Group E match that kicks off at 7 p.m.
The Azkals-loaded Busmen have the home crowd behind, but should still have their hands full against the reigning Malaysian Cup winners.
“It’s going to be tough game because Selangor is one of the big clubs in Southeast Asia,” Ceres’ prized recruit Stephan Schrock said. “We have to give more than one-hundred percent.”
“It’s not about the individuals now, because team success is much more important,” added the national team star, who’s on loan from German second-tier side Greuther Furth.
Kaya, the defending UFL Cup champion, made a surprise entry due to suspensions and some countries declining to send teams, but is also eager to make its mark in its debut in the second-tier club competition in the continent.
National standouts OJ Porteria and Kenshiro Daniels banner Kaya, now handled by former Azkals hero Chirs Greatwich.
The Philippine clubs warmed up for their international foray with convincing victories in the UFL Cup last week.