FC Meralco Manila looks forward to starting its campaign in the debut season of the Philippines Football League (PFL) with an improved roster of players.
The club, formerly known as Loyola Meralco Sparks FC, went through an intense revamp in its players and management since the start of the pre-season early this year.
According to General Manager Isabella Fernando, they will be starting the new national league with a more complete roster unlike in the previous season.
“I think we are looking much sharper and more versatile than last year. As you know, last year, we had some difficulties in our defensive line and in our goalkeepers but now I feel that we are more complete in every position,” she explained.
Through the help of newly appointed coach Aris Caslib, who took over the helm from former mentor Simon Mcmenemy last year, the Meralco boosted its line-up for the upcoming tournament.
“We have more players. I’m very confident with the new players that we signed for this upcoming league and we are very excited to start our campaign,” Fernando added.
A total of 10 new players, including five defensive specialists, were added in the squad’s roster to bolster their chances of notching a breakthrough season in the PFL.
Center backs Milan Nikolic of Serbia, Jong Min Lee of South Korea, Filipino-Hawaiian Tyler Matas and homegrown talent Neil Dorimon lead the pack of new additions for Meralco.
Nikolic last played for Global Cebu FC in the United Football League while Lee and Matas will both be playing their first year in the local football scene.
In addition, Dorimon came out of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football champions San Beda College, where Caslib previously served as head coach.
Aside from the defenders, strikers Ashley Flores and Connor Tacagni together with midfielders Alvin Sarmiento, Jean De Los Reyes, Edienzel Velizano were also new additions to the team.
Also, Filipino-English James Hall, a former youth player of English Premier League side Everton FC, has been added to Meralco’s packed roster.
Meanwhile, from their original plan of hosting their games at the McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig City, the club has opted to move their home ground to the historic Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.
“Originally, we already had an agreement with Taguig but it fell through because of the developer of the McKinley Hill Stadium delaying the renovations so obviously the PFF did not approve,” Fernando said.
She continued, “We had to look for alternatives for our home stadium so the best alternative that we found was the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.”
FC Meralco will be starting its campaign in the PFL against Stallion Laguna FC at the Binan Football Stadium in the opening day on May 6.