CERES Negros FC continued to bolster its lineup in the preseason by signing five top-notch players ahead of the 2018 AFC Champions League qualifiers and the second season of the Philippine Football League.
The Philippine football giants formally presented their new signings on Thursday in Bacolod led by veteran Spanish goalkeeper Toni Doblas, alongside national team players Amani Aguinaldo, Mike Ott and Sean Kane, and Japanese scoring sensation Takumi Uesato.
Four of the five signings are eligible to play in the qualification round of the biggest continental tournament in Asia, with Aguinaldo the only player who won’t be able to see action in the qualifying rounds.
At 37, Doblas played six full years in La Liga with his best year coming with Real Betis in the 2005-06 season where he was instrumental in the club’s maiden UEFA Champions League appearance.
He played all over the world from Azerbaijan to Finland India and even making a short stint at the Italian Serie A where he had two appearances for Napoli.
Bolstering the backline of Ceres are Azkals players Aguinaldo and Kane, both instrumental pieces of Global Cebu and JPV Marikina at the defense, respectively.
Aguinaldo, 22, already had 31 appearances for the national team, having played for the Azkals since age 18. Kane, on the other hand, emerged as one of the top defenders for JPV last season, earning his first call-up to the national team in the Asian Cup qualifie against Yemen last October.
Ott and Uesato are set to add firepower to the Ceres attack following the departure of Iain Ramsay and Fernando Rodriguez after the PFL season.
Ott last played in the Thai league for Angthong FC where he scored seven goals in 21 appearances. The diminutive midfielder has been an integral part of the Azkals attack, scoring a critical goal in the Asian Cup qualifier last year to salvage a point again Yemen.
While Ott is expected to bolster the Ceres midfield, Uesato will be playing up front more especially after an impressive stint with JPV Marikina last year.
The 27-year old striker netted 16 times last season for Marikina and is expected to add the same type of scoring prowess to the Negros side.
Ceres' road to the Champions League begins this Tuesday when it takes on Shan United in Myanmar for the first preliminary playoff in a one-game knockout match.
If Ceres wins, it take on three-time A-League champions Brisbane Roar the week after. The winner in this match will go on and face Chinese squad Tianjin Quanjian FC for a spot in the Champions League.