MANILA, Philippines – Mendiola FC 1991 is preparing to join the ranks of Philippine football giants Ceres-Negros FC and Kaya-Iloilo FC in the upcoming 2020 Philippines Football League (PFL) season with a retooled squad.
This year, the team banking on the core of San Beda's varsity players hopes to improve on last year's 5th place finish and make it past the semifinals of the Copa Paulino Alcantara tournament.
New players coming in to strengthen the team are Ray Joseph Joyel (goalkeeper), Marvin Bricencio (midfielder), John Celiz (midfielder), Apiah Tonaldo (forward), and John Nico Macapal (forward), JRV Malayo (center back), Dave Deloso (midfielder) and Sean Epili (midfielder).
The mainstays include Niño Datoy (goalkeeper), Souleyman Mbouombouo Ndepe (center back), Jay-R Sandoval (right back), PJ Fadrigalan (center back), Aljo Paul Zabala (left back), Paolo Javier (left back), Louie Joshua Polinag (right back), Aaron Altiche (midfielder), Nimrod Balatbat (midfielder), Jay Shaun Soberano (midfielder), Rey Franco Miguel De La Torre (midfielder), Hamed Hajimehdi (midfielder), and captain Jim Ashley Flores (forward).
"We have strengthened our lineup with a fine mix of standouts from the college tournaments, tough and experienced local players and strong foreign players," said management team leader Erwin Guevarra Isla.
Former national team player and National University coach Dan Padernal was tapped to take the reins with San Beda University mentors Nhiboy Pedimonte and Jake Cuaycong as assistant coaches and Anton Albao as the goalkeeping coach.
Aside from sponsoring the team, Ricardo Penson is also funding the construction of the team's home stadium in San Beda, Taytay, Rizal.
The turf will serve as Mendiola FC's final requirement in acquiring a Philippine Football Federation (PFF) club license as the team competed under a provisional license last season.
"If you’re good in football and love for football is part of how you see yourself in the future, we should give our football boys a place to go to after college," said Penson.
The fourth PFL season will kick off on March 21. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as Bee, Beatrice Go is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Philippine sports governance, national teams, football, and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.