WHEN the fourth season of the Philippines Football League (PFL) unfurls later this month, expect Mendiola FC 1991 out on the field better competing after undergoing a solid buildup in the offseason.

Joined the PFL last year where it finished fifth in the league before finishing the year with a third-place finish in the Copa Paulino Alcantara, Mendiola is angling to improve on its showing anchored on a roster it believes could get the job done.

“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 Erwin Guevarra Isla, Mendiola management team leader, at the team’s unveiling of its roster and kits last Saturday at Club Filipino in San Juan City.

The current team is composed of Season 2019 players 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 Jim Ashley Flores (forward).

Also part of the team are transferees Ray Joseph Joyel (goalkeeper), Marvin Bricencio (midfielder), John Celiz (midfielder), Apiah Tonaldo (forward), and John Nico Macapal (forward); and new players JRV Malayo (center back), Dave Deloso (midfielder), Sean Epili (midfielder), and Rederick Fornis (midfielder).

Former national team player and National University coach Dan Padernal is the head coach with San Beda University mentors Nhiboy Pedimonte and Jake Cuaycong as assistant coaches and Anton Albao as the goalkeeping coach.

Throwing its support to the team is Penson & Company Inc. (PCI), the firm of businessman and sports philanthropist Ricardo Penson, who is also a long-time supporter of the San Beda University Red Booters in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Focus Athletics is also on board, supporting the squad by providing gym facilities, physical therapy and medical services while FAT Indonesia created the team’s kits.

“We are hoping to be among the top three in the PFL and give the strong teams like Ceres FC and Kaya FC more intense games like the matches that we drew with them in 2019… Despite logistical challenges, Mendiola FC 1991 remains standing and proud. Our players, coaches and management are committed to investing our time and effort. At the end of the day, we fulfill our dreams to support the Filipino football community,” said Mr. Isla in further underscoring their vision and push.

The 2020 season of the PFL kicks off on March 21. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo