Back when he was one of the rookies of the teams, Angel Guirado Aldeguer teased then 38-year-old Yanti Barsales, the oldest member of the team then, by calling him “Abuelo” or “lolo.” That was in 2011, and Aldeguer, then 26, was set to make his debut for the team in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in Myanmar, where he would score two goals in his first cap.
More than 10 years later, Aldeguer is making the most of his comeback to the squad after years languishing on the sidelines during the Thomas Dooley era. In the last two games, he showed us glimpses of the young self who tallied eight goals during his first stint with the squad from March 2011 to November, 2012.
He’s been very productive in his latest call-up, scoring thrice in this Fifa World Cup qualification window, starting with Guam on Sept. 10, 2019 before Covid 19 forced a break in the football world.
His last goal, against the Maldives was quite a beauty. After missing a scoring chance due to a botched first touch, Angel made up for it quickly. In the next play, he one-timed a volley into the ground first to get the Azkals ahead in the 19th minute.
And goal No. 12 put him at a tie for third with James Younghusband for the most international goals for the squad, behind the retired Chieffy Caligdong (16) and Phil Younghusband (52).
With so many new faces coming in, Angel’s time in the squad is limited. And he knows that.
“Every time I have the opportunity to come (play for the national team), every game is my final,” he said in the pre-match conference.
That’s a nice attitude to take. One that the so many youngsters in the squad can learn from.
The lead Angel gave was short-lived though as Maldives equalized six minutes later. In the second half, the Azkals had a much better showing but couldn’t convert with Mike Ott tantalizingly just half-a-step twice.
Still, all things considered and I’d chalk the campaign as a success, especially with the things that squad had to deal with. There was that botched trip to China and the injuries in the first two games with Kenshiro Daniels and Carlie de Murga getting hurt away from the ball. Daniels didn’t see action after the first game and de Murga, a late call-up due to the change in venue, also missed the first game.
We missed out on the Qatar qualifiers, but we got a realistic target, a spot in the third round of the Asian Cup qualifiers. It’s still too early to tell who Scott Cooper will call up for that squad as I’m sure the guys who couldn’t make it in Dubai might be available, but I hope Aldeguer retains his spot. His is a feel-good story. I just wonder though if anyone will dare call him Abuelo.