A WEEK before the second season of the Philippines Football League officially kicks off, there’s a certain kind of positivity down South in the nest of the Davao Aguilas.
The Aguilas continued their signing spree, highlighted by the signings of national team veteran and former Global Cebu midfielder Dennis Villanueva, promising defender Josh Grommen formerly of Ceres, the JPV Marikina pair of Takashi Odawara and Sotoshi Otomo, Kaya Iloilo midfielder Adam Reed and Meralco Manila stud Tyler Matas.
They also got Korean journeyman Sungmin Kim to bolster their attack and cap off their busy offseason.
“I think Davao has the potential to win the championship and cup,” said Villanueva.
“The people and the president expect a lot from us this year and I’m sure that working hard all together, we’ll do better than last year and give satisfaction to the club and the fans,” he added.
Their first season left a lot to be desired, with the club finishing seventh with just 22 points in 28 games, having not won a single game until their 19th week.
But with the direction of the club in getting quality players in the offseason, it might be this season when their fortunes may finally change for the better.
The new signings will be joining a very potent line-up led by Phil and James Younghusband, the young Dylan De Bruycker, Matt Hartmann and Simone Rota.
Grommen, who experienced great success for the Busmen, believes that there’s still tons of work to be done but is optimistic that they are in the right path of catching up with contenders like Ceres.
“It’s hard to say at this moment if Davao can replicate what Ceres has done so far but I believe that the club will go a long way within the sport as I have seen great professionalism towards the owner and the staff of Davao,” said Grommen.
“If Davao keeps going in the direction that it is now, I’m sure that they will be challenging Ceres and also within the AFC tournament,” he added.
Like Grommen and Villanueva, Matas is confident that they have the necessary tools to win it all.
“I expect nothing but the best from my teammates and myself. We have a very good squad this season,” said Matas which played a crucial role in Meralco Manila’s solid run last season.
“I’m expecting to win the league or cup, maybe even both. Even though Davao is a new club, I believe that we have the tools to win.”
That’s the challenge that the new guys will be facing now as they open their campaign against Kaya Iloilo on March 4 at the Davao del Norte Sports Complex.
“I already knew most of them, the new ones have immediately welcomed me as one of them, with the coach, I have a normal relationship of a player to coach,” Villanueva said.
“For me, the biggest challenge is to bring Davao into the AFC Cup.”