Saturday, 26 March 2011

Guirado shines as Azkals reach AFC Challenge Cup quarterfinal round

Posted by chardyboy on Saturday, March 26, 2011 0 comments

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Guirado shines as Azkals reach AFC Challenge Cup quarterfinal round

Angel Guirado starred in the Philippine Azkals' 3-0 dismantling of Bangladesh in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup on Friday at the Bogyoke Aung San Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Filipino-Spanish striker, one of the last-minute replacements for the injured Phil Younghusband, scored twice in the second half as the Azkals earned a much-needed three points in the group stage of the Challenge Cup.

The 26-year-old Guirado first scored in the 55th minute, then added one more in the 80th minute to secure the win for the wards of coach Michael Weiss.

Ian Araneta, a veteran forward of the Philippine Air Force, opened up the scoring for the Azkals when he found the back of the net in the 41st minute as the Philippine team took a 1-0 lead at the turn.

The Philippines finished undefeated after consecutive draws with Myanmar (1-1) and fellow qualifier Palestine (0-0) – a 3-1 winner over the hosts – to enter the Last 8.

Other quarterfinalists were Group B qualifiers India and Turkmenistan, and the Maldives and Tajikistan (Group C).

Group D – which has 2010 AFC Challenge Cup champions North Korea, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the winner of the playoff match between Cambodia and Macau – will start their final qualifying matches on April 7.

The top two teams in Group D will earn the last two spots in the Last 8 of the biennial tournament.

Tougher assignment

But reaching the next phase of the tournament for the first time means a tougher job for the Azkals, who are expected to arrive in Manila on Sunday.

“We are happy with the win. The team gave us another reason to be proud of it. I thank everyone who supported the Azkals for their prayers. But this is one more step, that we entered the tougher phase of the tournament," said Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Marano “Nonong" Araneta.

But Araneta believes the Azkals can go further in the Challenge Cup. “We have one year to prepare and one year to further strengthen the team. We still have elimination matches to play in a World Cup qualifier."

Araneta said the Last 8 teams in the Challenge Cup will be divided into two groups, with the top two teams in each group earning spots in the AFC Challenge Cup’s championship round. - Jon Perez, TJD, KY, GMA News


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