Angel Guirado returns in style for Azkals
DEDEDO, Guam—Philippines striker Angel Guirado was only waiting for his chance these past few years.
And when he got his opportunity to wear the Azkals kit again, the veteran striker seized the moment to help the Filipinos remain in a solid position after the first window in the joint Fifa World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.
Unable to make the grade for the Philippines in the past few years, Guirado created a stir in his return with a goal and an assist in the 4-1 victory over Guam last Tuesday here.
He also assisted on strike partner, Javier Patiño’s opening goal in the 2-5 loss to Syria in Bacolod City last week. The results meant the Azkals are in third spot behind China and Syria in Group A with a clash against the Chinese next in Bacolod City on Oct. 15.
“I’m just happy to be back in the team,” said Guirado, now 34, who burst into the Azkals lineup more than eight years ago under former coach Michael Weiss. “I was trying to find the best situation for me in the last four years so that I could get an opportunity to be back with the Azkals.”
After a one year stint with Global in the United Football League, the 6-foot-2 striker fell off the radar and hardly merited a second look from Thomas Dooley who was in charge of the Azkals from 2014-2017.
Guirado’s club career was marked by short contracts that took him to India, Gibraltar, Iceland, Malaysia, Italy, Thailand and the Philippines, where a short stint with Davao Aguilas led to a brief international return with the squad that represented the country in the Long Teng Cup two years ago in Taiwan.
Throughout his journey, a comeback with the Azkals never left Guirado’s mind.
“I never closed the door on the Azkals,” said Guirado.
Next to midfielder Manny Ott, who got his first cap in 2010, Guirado is next as the longest-tenured player in the team, having played with the likes of veterans Chieffy Caligdong, Ian Araneta and Yanti Barsales.
These homegrown stars have called time on their international career already, but Guirado has kept going and remains effective.
“The question that bothered me was why was I not given a chance for a long time.”
The knocks on Guirado’s game has been his lack of pace and his fitness to be effective for 90 minutes.
But he remains a weapon for the Azkals as a big striker who can win aerial duels and hold up the play for his teammates to get involved on attack.
He can also finish chances as evidenced by the precise header that he scored against Guam and can create opportunities for teammates like the way he released Patrick Reichelt for the second goal.
Azkals coach Scott Cooper helped facilitate Guirado’s transfer to Thai club Chonburi that allowed the Fil-Spanish striker to find his feet again, knowing that he’ll be an asset for the Azkals.
“He’s not mobile as a (Stephan) Schrock, but he’s got size that we need up front,” said Cooper. “We needed that type of striker. And we’re lucky that he’s in-form in Thailand.”
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