With only three days remaining before the Loyola Meralco Sparks play their opener against Ceres-La Salle, the club’s supporters can expect quite a few new faces take the field. A total of 11 players have been added to the roster: two goalkeepers, one defender, five midfielders, and three forwards. Eight of the new players are Filipino recruits, while three hail from either Japan or Spain.
While Jason de Jong, a UFL Cup and League champion, and Philippine National Team player, is the most high profile of the new signings, the Sparks have also injected plenty of other young Filipino talent to the squad.
There is a new University of the Philippines influence on the team, with four of the new players still involved with the school: Daniel Gadia, Ian Clarino, Ace Villanueva, and the returning Anto Gonzales, who coaches the team. Jinggoy Valmayor is the fifth of the UP boys, having just recently ended his collegiate career with the Fighting Maroons.
Arnel Amita of FEU represents another collegiate standout, while Filipino-Japanese teenager Kouchi Belgira adds more young talent to the squad.
Meanwhile, Spanish forward Alvaro Castiella, Japanese midfielder Akira Miyayama, and Japanese-Brazilian Guilherme Hasegawa round out the last of the new faces.
Here’s a complete list of new recruits for the upcoming 2016 UFL Cup:
1. Guilherme Hasegawa (Japanese) – Goalkeeper
2. Ace Villanueva (Filipino) – Goalkeeper
3. Ian Clarino (Filipino) – Defender
4. Jason de Jong (Filipino) – Midfielder
5. Anto Gonzales (Filipino) – Midfielder
6. Arnel Amita (Filipino) – Midfielder
7. Akira Miyayama (Japanese) – Midfielder
8. Kouchi Belgira (Filipino) – Midfielder
9. Daniel Gadia (Filipino) – Forward / Midfielder
10. Jinggoy Valmayor (Filipino) – Forward
11. Alvaro Castiella (Spanish) – Forward