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Global, Ceres Negros learn fate in 2017 AFC Cup Group Stage

For the second year in a row, two Philippine clubs will feature in Asia’s second most important club football competition, the AFC Cup.

UFL League and Cup double winners Global and runners-up Ceres Negros will be back in the continental stage once again, having earned the right to represent the country in the tournament.

Drawn in Group F, Global will take on former AFC Cup champions Johor Darul Ta’zim of Malaysia; Myanmar club and 2016 General Aung San Shield winners Magwe; and the winners of the playoff tie between Laos’ Lao Toyota and Cambodia’s Boeung Ket Angkor.UFL-Images-Global-Laos Global, Ceres Negros learn fate in 2017 AFC Cup Group Stage AFC Cup Football News  - philippine sports news

The journey for Global does not automatically begin in the AFC Cup, however, as they are also in the preliminary round of the AFC Champions League, where they will play against Tampines Rovers of Singapore. Should they beat the Singaporean team, they next face Australia’s Brisbane Roar. Overcoming them would mean facing China’s Shanghai Shenhua in the last round of playoff qualifiers. Their path to the Champions League is set to begin on the 24th of January 2017.

If Global go on to make it to the AFC Champions League group stage, the Loyola Meralco Sparks will take their place in the AFC Cup. As the Sparks finished third in the league, AFC designated them as the standby Philippine team should Global compete in the AFC Champions League.UFL-Cup-2016-Ceres-Adrian-Gallardo Global, Ceres Negros learn fate in 2017 AFC Cup Group Stage AFC Cup Football News  - philippine sports news

Ceres Negros, meanwhile, will lock horns in Group G with Singaporean heavyweights and familiar opponents Tampines Rovers, V.League champions Hanoi T&T, and Malaysian Super League runners-up Felda United. Should Tampines get a slot in the AFC Champions League, they will be substituted by Geylang International.

#ReadMore  Ceres bows to Tampines Rovers in Singapore Cup first-leg duel

This season’s AFC Cup format is different from previous editions, as it introduces a more regional approach in the group stage. There will be three groups of four dedicated to ASEAN clubs, which would render qualification into the knockout stages a bit more stringent.

Unlike before, when finishing in the top two merited a spot in the round of 16, this edition introduces a zonal format instead. Hence, teams in West Asia and ASEAN Zones would have to finish as the group winner and the best group runner-up in order to make the zonal semi-final.

In ASEAN’s case, the winner of the ASEAN Zone — determined by the two-legged knockout semis and finals — will face the group winners of the Central (Group D), South (Group E), and East (Group I) in a virtual quarterfinal. The West Asian zone winners, on the other hand, will be assured of a spot in the final.

With a more competitive format in place, expect the Filipino teams to battle it out against the best of the region as they all eye to lift the AFC Cup next year.

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