He’s like a taller and faster version of Phil Younghusband, that was how one writer who travelled with the Philippine national team to Myanmar for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers described Angel Guirado. That was in March 2011 and the Azkals was riding a wave of popularity, thanks to Hanoi 2010 and the win against Mongolia in the qualifiers in Bacolod a month before.
And when he scored two goals against Bangladesh in that tournament, we all thought, wow Phil and him upfront? What could go wrong?
Though Guirado would go on to appear 39 times for the national team, he would only add eight goals to the spectacular two in his debut tournament. It seems lady luck frowned on him, hitting the wood work too many times or just a step or half-a-step behind.
And when Thomas Dooley took over from Michael Weiss, he would only got one call up. So I was surprised he was included in this year’s qualifiers but Cedelf Tupas reminded me that Guirado was already part of this qualifying window’s squad and even scored against Guam and also provided the assist to Patrick Reichelt in September 2019. Not a bad showing for a guy who has been rarely called up in the last five years.
At 36, he’s one of the oldest members of the squad and has taken a mentor role. And that’s good because with so many new faces on the team, these guys will need some guidance on how football is treated in this basketball-mad country.
Stephan Schrock has also taken on a mentor role for the past few years and Gerrit Holtmann’s inclusion in the lineup is very timely with Schrock on board. I remember the hype surrounding Schrock and how national team officials were salivating at the prospect of the Bundesliga player who represented Germany in the U20s to finally don the national team’s colors.
And Schrock said hello to the fans in his third cap, scoring a thunder of a goal against Kuwait. I’m sure most of us have forgotten the final score, but we all remember that goal. And over the years, we laughed as he made defenders look silly in the Suzuki Cup.
And now? Interestingly enough a Filipino-German who just helped his team earn a Bundesliga promotion and has played for Germany in the U20s will be making his Azkals debut.
Guirado, Schrock and even Reichelt, these guys’ contribution in this qualifiers won’t be measured by stats or limited on the field because they are now the Azkals statesmen.