MARTIN Steuble didn’t mince any words with regard to the state of the Philippine Football League after Ceres Negros advanced to the AFC Cup Asean Zone finals anew following a 6-5 win on aggregate over Yangon United in Myanmar on Wednesday.
In a TV interview with AFC coveror Fox Sports Asia, the 29-year-old midfielder blasted the PFL and the organizing Philippine Football Federation for alleged ‘lack of support’ for the Bacolod-based club in its AFC campaign, calling the domestic league a ‘big question mark.'
The video was shared in the network’s social media accounyt and has had more than 16,000 views on Facebook as of posting time.
“The preparation was very terrible. Our league back home, our federation back home didn’t support us at all. This is all we have, the international competition,” said Steuble, who had stints in the MLS and the second division Swiss league before joining Ceres in 2015.
“The league at home is a big question mark. But this is what we play for, the AFC, the international stage, you can see it in everybody’s face that this is what we get,” he added.
Reactions to Steuble’s comments were mixed, with some coming to the PFL’s defense and saying the league has bent over backwards to adjust to the reigning champions’ schedule in the continental tournament.
Other commenters backed Steuble, pointing to a 'lack of structure' in the league and a perceived lack of foresight from the federation and the people running the league. They also mention the departure of Meralco Manila and Ilocos United that dropped the number of teams to six this year, and difficulties in terms of exposure and promotion of the tournament.
Regardless of the issues with its domestic league, Ceres continued its amazing run both domestically and internationally.
Just this year, Ceres went a win away from qualifying to the AFC Champions League and is once again on the ASEAN zone final of the AFC Cup. It is also currently sitting atop the PFL table with 15 points, a point clear of the second running Davao Aguilas with two games in hand.