Part 2 A call to arms
by rick olivares
Pasargad (6th, 7-3-8)
If the two-time former UFL champions began the league play with the lineup they closed out the season with they would have finished much higher in the standings.
It started out with the acquisition of Masood Ohadi Shadideh, who scored 10 goals in eight matches, Shayan Jafari Dastjerdi, Hamed Hajimehdi and Fil-Spaniard Emil Muncada. Although they stumbled to a 2-0 loss to Air Force as the new recruits got their baptism of fire in Philippine football, they found their groove in the next game with a 1-nil triumph over Nomads and a shocking 4-3 upset over Loyola that derailed the latter’s campaign. Jafari Dastjerdi scored a hat trick in that match including an 84th minute strike that won the game for the Essi Sedigh-coached side.
Global sent them crashing back to earth with a 4-0 thumping (and a 1-1 draw with Green Archers United), underscoring the need for better defending. After which they manufactured a 1-0 win over Stallion before returning the favor to Air Force with a 3-2 win courtesy of an Ohadi goal.
In the off-season, the club, aside from Pachanga, underwent a massive facelift with only nine players retained from the previous campaign. They brought in Fil-American Josh Boone from the Dayton Dutch Lions of the USL Pro League, Pachanga’s goalkeeper Kenneth Dolloso who is a penalty stopper, Nigerian striker Emmanuel Mbata, and defender Promise Jolomi who will take the departed Mark Anthony Fernandez’ spot in the back. They also added 22-year old Michael Nelson, a Fil-British midfielder who once played for Nomads.
With all the new faces, it would be interesting to see how they all blend and improve on last year’s finish.
Coach: Essi Sedigh
(OUT) Abdollah Golkah, Soroush Zalmoo, Majid Mahdavi, Mansour Madadi, Alex Sheehan, Erol Labra, Miki Emaka, and Charlie Sutcliffe.
(IN) Josh Boone, Peyman Cabarrus, Hamed Fateh, Mohammad Hadi Dalir, Hassan Hajimehdi, Mohammad Jahanarai, Nigel Jaran, Promise Jolomi, Omid Khodabandeh, Emmanuel Mbata Ameachi, Amin Nefasaty, Michael Anthony Nelson, Masood Shadideh, and Jahambakhsh Zabihi Taher
Nomads (7th, 4-7-7)
For a club that doesn’t have the capability to pay its players, recruit massively, and train on a regular basis (not to mention dealing with distracting issues in their particular “homefield” in Merville, Paranaque), Nomads didn’t do too bad in their maiden year in the top flight division of the UFL. Now what more if they were able to address their woes?
There are 10 new faces to Nomads, the country’s oldest football club. The team has shed its expat image and brought in many local players. But Phil Connolly, Steven Borrill, Randy Musters, and Kristian Joergensen will still lead the Mick Denison-coached club.
Coach: Mick Denison
(IN) John Adekagun, Khalid Almaji, Jason Arroyo, Jonathan Atangan, Mickael Cardoso, Aaron De Rama, Paolo Enrile, Luis Infante, Louis Ohleneorff, Enrique Ortiz
Green Archers United (8th 3-5-10)
Last season, Green Archers United played terrific defense in the cup competition. Come league play, while they were still a tough team defensively their lack of offense wasn’t enough to stay in the upper tier of Division One as they flirted with relegation. There’s potential, mind you. They showed that they were a force to reckon with by battling Loyola to a near standstill before losing 2-3. They lost to Kaya 2-1, drew 1-1 with Pasargad, and lost by a hairline to eventual champions, Global, 1-0.
Their transfer window acquisitions from FEU’s UAAP team – striker Jon Melliza and the multi-talented Ronnie Aguisanda – helped the squad offensively but it still wasn’t enough.
This new season, they hope to have addressed some concerns with the arrival of former Global midfielder Ayi Nii Aryee who also won two titles in the UAAP with UP. Ayi can be of great help to his team – provided they know how to use him. In the past, he was asked to playing defender or even a holding midfield position. They are far from his strengths as he is a scoring player. But the coaching staff is hoping that he can find Tating Pasilan, Arnie Pasinabo, and Melliza with his deft passing. If he can link up with them then Green Archers will be dangerous up front.
Young Korean midfielder Saekyoul Lee from FEU is an exciting midfielder who makes good reads on offense. It would be interesting to see how he finds playing time not to mention chemistry with a team that isn’t very good in its short passing.
Lawrence Ikegwuruka, late of Loyola, and Dominic Mensah, formerly of Nomads, add to their defensive toughness.
Coach: Rodolfo Alicante
(OUT) Gerald Pacquiao (Forza)
(IN) Ayi Nii Aryee (Global), Elle Cagayanan, Lawrence Ikegwuruka, Saekyoul Lee (FEU), Dominic Mensah (Nomads).
Army (9th, 3-4-11)
Another former club power that has struggled to compete with the new face of Philippine football.
They showed some promise when they upended eventual champion Global in their first match of the league competition. They hung tough in the next few games before their lack of firepower up front did them in. National players Boogie Margarse, Roel Gener, and Ric Becite did their best to carry the team but it was like putting up a sandbag against the rising flood waters. Jeoffrey Lobaton who made a comeback early last season when Army was lacking players made an impact with his energy. But his temper also undid the team when he was oft carded for his physical play.
With the promotion of Pachanga, Army will be hard pressed to make the most out of its roster of former national players many who are getting in on the years.
Coach: Maj. Patricio Bumidang
(NEW) Kevin Benas, Jake Macuja, and Jake Rodrigazo.
Pachanga (Division Two champions, 21-1-0)
Easily the most controversial club of the past two years. Pachanga has its genesis in Kaya when many of its players departed for the new club (including their coach Juan Cutillas).
The Red Phoenix, as Pachanga is known, topped the UFL’s Division Two in record setting fashion as they romped through the ranks with a 21-1-0 slate while racking up 123 goals and conceding only eight.
As soon as the club was promoted, they were sold to a group that owns Diliman FC prompting a massive change in its roster. The result is the best of both club’s former line-ups and instantly transforms them into a darkhorse contender for any piece of silverware this season.
They are led by former national players Freddy Gonzalez, Ariel Zerrudo, and the up and coming Jinggoy Valmayor.