Philippines Football League club Ceres Negros FC’s quest for an AFC Champions League berth ended in a 2-0 defeat to J League side FC Tokyo last Tuesday, 28 January 2020 at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.
Goals from Sei Muroya and Adialton in the second half denied Ceres’ bid to become the first Filipino side to reach the competition’s group stage proper for the second time of asking.
Despite missing skipper Stephan Schrock, defender Sean Kane, and midfielder Mike Ott due to suspension and injuries, the 2019 PFL and Copa champions fought courageously in search of an upset.
Conceding to Muroya’s opener three minutes in to the second half, Ceres Negros came to life in the final 10 minutes following a red card to Tachi Hara for a challenge on midfielder Takashi Odawara.
Opportunities came for Manuel Herrera, James Younghusband, Robert Lopez-Mendy, and Bienvenido Marañon, but the Negros side were unable to force extra-time as Adialton scored the insurance goal in the 89th minute.
Ceres Negros’ exit from the AFC Champions League will see them compete in the AFC Cup group stage, alongside Kaya FC-Iloilo as the country’s representatives in the competition. Ceres is in Group G and will face Bali United of Indonesia, Than Quang Ninh of Vietnam, and the play-off winner between Master 7 of Lao PDR and Svay Rieng FC of Cambodia.