CERES NEGROS FC will be vying for a slot in the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League when it plays host to Yangon United of Myanmar at the start of the three-stage qualification phase on Feb. 5 in Bacolod City.
The match, which served as a rematch of the ASEAN Zone Semifinal of the 2018 AFC Cup between the two teams, will be the first of the three stages Ceres Negros needs to overcome to qualify to the AFC Champions League.
Should Ceres Negros be successful against Yangon, they will face Chiangrai United on Feb. 12 on the second stage of the preliminaries.
The winners of second round will face the Japan third ranked club in the final playoff match.
The winner of the final playoff match will be part of AFC Champions League’s Group F, which includes China’s Guangzhou Evergrande, Korea Republic’s second ranked club, and Australia’s Melbourne Victory.
If ever Ceres Negros fails to beat one or all of the three teams, they will be relegated to the group stage of the Asian Football Confederation Cup, the region’s second-tier club tournament.
Ceres Negros is already qualified in AFC Cup after ruling the 2018 Philippines Football League. Same goes with Kaya Iloilo FC, which was the champion of the PFL Copa Paulino Alcantara.
It was the second straight year that the Negros Occidental-based football team is playing for an AFC Champions League slot after falling short in the third stage of the qualification round in 2018.
Last year, Ceres Negros hurdled Shan United of Myanmar in the first round (4-3), stunned Brisbane Roar of Australia in the second round (3-2) before losing to Tianjin Quanjian of China (2-0) in the third and final round./PN