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Baldisimo bros in as Saintfiet announce 28-man PMNFT lineup

Photo from MLS/San Jose Earthquakes

by Drew Malihan

MANILA - Bring the boys out!

Head coach Tom Saintfiet announced his first iteration of the Philippine men's national football team for the March 2024 international window Monday night.

The men in blue will feature seven new faces, with the brothers Michael Baldisimo of' San Jose Earthquakes and Matthew Baldisimo of Canada's York United leading the way.

The younger brother Michael has earned 62 apps and will enter his sixth season in Major League Soccer, while the older brother Matthew has featured 19 times for the Canadian Premier League side, and has appeared previously for Canada's youth team setups before switching to the Philippines.

Other first-cap hopefuls include Kaya's Mark Swainston, DH Cebu's Jeremiah Borlongan and Chima Uzoka, U23 standout Andres Aldeguer, and one of UAAP's stars in Theo Libarnes.

Jefferson and Paul Tabinas will join the brotherhood affair as well, with Jefferson coming off a productive stint in Buriram United and Paul entering the fray after 18 matches this season with second-tier Croatian side Vukovar 1991.

Saintfiet focused more on youth with only five of the 28-man lineup being over the age of 30, including long-serving NT members Patrick Reichelt, Neil Etheridge, and Patrick Deyto.

Despite fans' pleas to include players such as Europe-based Gerrit Holtmann, Sandro Reyes, and Sebastian Rasmussen, there was no place for them in the 28-man squad.

The full lineup is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Patrick Deyto (Chonburi), Neil Etheridge (Birmingham City), Kevin Ray Mendoza (Persib Bandung).

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), Daisuke Sato (Davao Aguilas), Jefferson Tabinas (Buriram United), Paul Tabinas (Vukovar 1991).

Midfielders: Justin Baas (free agent), Matthew Baldisimo (York United), Michael Baldisimo (San Jose Earthquakes), Pocholo Bugas (Angkor Tiger), Kevin Ingreso (free agent), Oskari Kekkonen (Lamphun Warriors), Mike Ott (Barito Putera), Mark Swainston (Kaya-Iloilo).

Forwards: Andres Aldeguer (Central Connecticut University), Jeremiah Borlongan (DH Cebu), Jarvey Gayoso (Kaya-Iloilo), Theo Libarnes (Far Easter University), OJ Porteria (Dewa United), Patrick Reichelt (Kuala Lumpur City), Chima Uzoka (DH Cebu)

The national team will be heading to Basra to have an away match with Iraq on March 22 before hosting the same squad inside Rizal Memorial Stadium on March 26.

Follow him on X: @drew_corner

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