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Bacolod City: Ceres Negros’ victory in the 2017 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Final on Wednesday was a historic moment for the team, the Filipino nation and the entire region according to man-of-the-match midfielder Stephan Schrock.

Down 2-1 from the first leg in Singapore, Ceres went ahead on the away goals rule after just two minutes after Jose Porteria volleyed in from six yards.

Manuel Ott added a second with a superlative free-kick shortly before half-time and, despite Stipe Plazibat hitting the woodwork for the visitors within the final 10 minutes, Ceres were able to see out the remainder of the tie to be crowned ASEAN zonal champions.

 

“After the match, the players were crying on the pitch because we left it all out there,” said former 1899 Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt player Schrock.

“We put in the performance of our life in this final. We deserve to make history for the club, the country and Southeast Asia

“We have very good support here and we’re very proud to represent this city.”

Born in Schweinfurt, Germany, Schrock was a pivotal part of Ceres’ AFC Cup campaign last year, after joining on loan from 2. Bundesliga club SpVgg Greuther Furth.

For the 2017 tournament, though, the Philippines international only rejoined Ceres in April and the two legs of the ASEAN Zonal Final have been his only AFC Cup appearances this year.

And at Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium, in the decisive second leg, Schrock made quite the impact as the creative hub for the Busmen showing impressive energy, pressing and vision as he led by example.

“It was a very important game and I’m just honoured to be given a starting place,” he added.

“I had to prove that I deserve to start because my teammates have been sacrificing the past six months to get us to this stage [of the competition].

“Even though we came into the game knowing that we can go through with a 1-0 win, we were focused and very professional.

“I am very proud to have the opportunity to represent this team.”

Schrock and Ceres will not have long to rest though, with the first leg of the AFC Cup Inter-Zone Semi-finals arriving in two weeks’ time and bringing with it a trip to Dushanbe to face 2015 AFC Cup runners-up FC Istiklol of Tajikistan.

Photos: Lagardère Sports

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