Pouncing on second chance, veteran Guirado makes presence felt
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 on 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 the 34-year-old Guirado, 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 to 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 call-up for a Taiwan tournament.
Throughout his journey, a comeback with the Azkals never left Guirado’s mind.
“I never closed the door on the Azkals,” Guirado said.
Azkals coach Scott Cooper helped facilitate Guirado’s transfer to Thai club Chonburi that allowed the Filipino-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,” Cooper said. “We needed that type of striker. And we’re lucky that he’s in form in Thailand.”
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