The Asian Champions League qualifying rounds began this month and right now it is Filipino club Ceres-Negros making the headlines after eliminating Brisbane Roar of the Australian League on 23 January.
Based in Bacolod and founded in 2012, Ceres-Negros booked a preliminary qualifying spot after winning the 2017 Philippines Football League.
The first test took place on 16 January when the Filipino club visited Shan United, champions of the Myanmar Premier League.
Scoreless at full time, the match went into extra time. After two halves of extra time, the score was 1-1 and the match had to be decided on penalties.
Ceres-Negros prevailed 4-3 in the penalty shootout to advance to the second round of preliminary qualifying.
The next match would take place in a Land Down Under against Brisbane Roar and the football experts believed Brisbane would advance to the playoff round with ease.
The Australian club started off with a 1-0 lead, but Ceres-Negros equalized late in the first half through Spanish winger Bienve.
Five minutes after hour mark, Bienve struck again to put Ceres-Negros in the lead.
In the 75th minute, Brisbane was unable to clear a corner kick and midfielder Omid Nazari put his shot into the net to give Ceres-Negros a 3-1 lead.
The home side cut the lead to 3-2 in the 86th minute, but was unable to find the equalizer.
The Ceres-Negros players and coaches jumped for the joy at the final whistle as the 25/1 outsiders pulled off the upset.
“You never know what can happen in football,” Omid Nazari said. “Everyone thought Brisbane was going to destroy us. But we stuck together as a team and we fought for each other.”
In the eyes of the Australian media, this was an embarrassing result for Brisbane.
Naturally it comes as no surprise considering that basketball is the most popular sport in the Philippines, but these last two wins for Ceres-Negros have been exciting for the club and its supporters.
Next up is another match away from home, but this time against Tianjin Quanjian of the Chinese Super League and a ticket to the Asian Champions League group phase is at stake.
How will Ceres-Negros be able to get past a club that has Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato and Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel on its roster?
Win or lose, Ceres-Negros has made its supporters proud. But more importantly, Ceres-Negros has gained respect and recognition in Asian football.