Ceres-Negros face massive uphill battle in ACL qualifier after visa complications


Ceres-Negros’ Asian Champions qualifier has been plunged into serious doubt only a few days after they pulled off one of the best victories ever by a Filipino club on the continental stage by defeating Aussie side Brisbane Roar in Brisbane.  Their reward for coming through that difficult away game, is a tie in China against Tianjin Quanjian which now was in doubt due to the Philippines side being told by the Chinese embassy there was not enough time to issue the visas.

Ceres-Negros said they applied for the visas as soon as they returned from Australia, and have appealed to various bodies for help in resolving the issue. With no clear outcome, Ceres-Negros has asked the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) to postpone the game as it’s not possible for it to be played out fairly.

However, they managed to get their travel documents back from the Chinese Embassey today and are expected to arrive in Tianjin at 3am Tuesday morning where they’ll be met by freezing temperatures. With no time to train or acclimatize Ceres-Negros face a massive uphill task of getting past a Tianjin Quanjian side who include Alexandre Pato and Axel Witsel amongst their squad.

The AFC said that it clearly states in the association’s handbook that each individual club is responsible for obtaining visas for their players and staff to enter a hosting nation’s territory. They also state that visas must be applied for 30 days prior to the game, even if it is unknown they will get to the next round.  

As Ceres-Negros were rank outsiders to win in Australia we presume they decided it would be best to keep the money needed put aside for travel tickets, and documents and use it for something else, but after getting past Brisbane Roar we imagine they were regretting that decision.

From Ceres-Negros’ point of view though, traveling throughout the continent of Asia to play in the Champions league is a logistical nightmare and the costs must rise very quickly. They have already travelled to Myanmar, Australia and now China. That puts the travel done by clubs in Europe to shame, managers often come out and complain they have a midweek game in Russia and then back to the Premier League on Saturday.

Considering the calamitous preparation of Ceres-Negros, Tianjin should stroll into the next round without any issues unless they take their opponents lightly allowing Ceres-Negros to create more history for Filipino football. This should serve as a message to other teams who obviously think ‘they’ll not make it to the next round’ that they should still apply for their visas anyway.  As now it looks like Ceres have gifted Tianjin easy passage to the next stage of the competition.

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