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Port’s ACL Opponents Confirmed: Ceres Negros 3-2 Shan Utd

 

Heavy favourites Ceres Negros survived a late scare to scrape through the first round of the AFC Champions League qualifiers, ultimately running out 3-2 victors over Shan United.

Ceres, who dominate the Philippines Football League year after year, have some top quality talent at their disposal, but they did little to suggest that they will be able to step up a level and beat Port in the next round of qualifiers. They kept possession well and occasionally looked threatening going forward, but their finishing was found wanting on several occasions and defensively they were poor.

I’m not going to give a blow by blow account of the game, as if I have to watch (and listen) to the highlights I may well poke me eyes (and my ears) out, but will give you my take on some of the key performers.

 


 

OJ Porteria (10) was my Man of the Match. The American-Filipino right winger provided a consistent threat, whether running with the ball, shooting or crossing. He notched an assist for the second goal, scored the crucial third and hit the bar with an absolutely fantastic volley from distance. Whoever plays left back for Port will have their hands full.

 

 

Clearly the best player at Ceres is Stephan Schrock (12), although he didn’t really start to come in to his own until later on when the match got close. Schrock is a midfield general with Bundesliga experience. He can mix it up physically, his long passing is superb and his work rate is exemplary,especially considering that he’s 33 years old.

Up front Ceres have two foreign players: Robert Lopez Mendy (71) and Bienvenido Maranon (7). Mendy scored the first, got booked for a ridiculous handball while through on goal and missed an open goal after Porteria’s stunning volley. He’s scored a fair few goals in the Philippines, but that’s hardly anything to write home about. Not impressed. Maranon has much more technical ability and he also scored a tidy goal, but he doesn’t have much physical presence and if Wikipedia is to believed his scoring record in The Philippines is deeply underwhelming.

 

 

There are a couple of honourable mentions for Roland Muller (1) and Mike Ott (5), but only because I picked them out as transfer suggestions in my ASEAN scouting pieces. Neither stood out. Muller did make one excellent stop from a free kick, but should have done better with Shan’s opening goal. Ott looked to be carrying a little too much weight, and struggled to have any impact on the game.

The defence was very poor, failing to defend crosses on numerous occasions.

I’ll be writing a preview in the run-up to Tuesday’s game going in to more depth, but for now the verdict is that Port will certainly be favourites, although there are a couple of players we’ll have to be on the look-out for.