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Sunday, June 16, 2024

PH national football team welcomes 7 newcomers

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SEVEN new faces were included to the Philippine national men’s football team after new head coach Tom Saintfiet finalized the roster for the squad’s coming matches with Iraq.

Among them are brothers Michael Baldisimo of the San Jose Earthquakes and Matthew Baldisimo of Canada’s York United as the team tries to make its presence felt in the second round of the Asian qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup 2026.

The younger one in Michael has accumulated 62 appearances as he enters his sixth season in Major League Soccer in Canada.

The elder Matthew, who has appeared 19 times for the Canadian Premier League side, was with the youth team before switching federations to the Philippines.

The other first-timers whom Saintfiet and his assistant coaches selected were Kaya’s Mark Swainston, DH Cebu’s Jeremiah Borlongan and Chima Uzoka, U23 standout Andres Aldeguer and collegiate standout Theo Libarnes.

Brothers Jefferson and Paul Tabinas also made the cut, with the former playing out of Buriram United and the latter seeing action for 18 matches with Croatian side Vukovar 1991.

The newcomers will be with experienced members of the squad, such as Patrick Deyto (Chonburi), Neil Etheridge (Birmingham City) and Kevin Ray Mendoza (Persib Bandung).

Saintfiet’s choice of players put an emphasis on youth, with only five of the 28-man lineup being over the age of 30.

The senior members are Patrick Reichelt, Etheridge and Deyto.

Others in the lineup are defenders Amani Aguinaldo (Trat), Marco Casambre (Kaya-Iloilo), Jesse Curran (Ratchaburi), Simen Lyngbø (Persik Kediri), Jesper Nyholm (Perak), Christian Rontini (Persita Tangerang), Santiago Rublico (Atletico Madrid U19) and Daisuke Sato (Davao Aguilas).

The midfielders are Justin Baas (free agent), Pocholo Bugas (Angkor Tiger), Kevin Ingreso (free agent), Oskari Kekkonen (Lamphun Warriors), Mike Ott (Barito Putera), Mark Swainston (Kaya-Iloilo).

Among the forwards are Andres Aldeguer (Central Connecticut University), Jeremiah Borlongan (DH Cebu), Jarvey Gayoso (Kaya-Iloilo), OJ Porteria (Dewa United) and Chima Uzoka (DH Cebu)

The national team heads to Basra for an away match with Iraq on March 22, before coming back to Manila to face the same squad at the  Rizal Memorial Stadium on March 26.

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