BACOLOD CITY – It was a homecoming of sorts for the Azkals at the Panaad Stadium, and they didn’t disappoint.
Playing on the pitch that has brought them great memories before the country's most fervent football fans, the Azkals outclassed Guam, 3-0, in their friendly on Tuesday night to end their three-friendly series on a high note.
Quick-fire Angel Guirado struck twice and Carli de Murga added a third - all goals coming in the first half - as the Azkals finally broke through after draws against Malaysia and Indonesia.
Three goals, however, were not even enough to meet the target of Azkals coach Michael Weiss.
“I was actually aiming for seven points,” Weiss said. “But we should be satisfied. We won very clearly.”
Even without suspended skipper Chieffy Caligdong, the Azkals had a potent offensive starting XI of Phil Younghusband, Denis Wolf, Angel Guirado, Marwin Angeles, James Younghusband, Jerry Lucena, Rob Gier, Jason Sabio, Dennis Cagara, Carli de Murga, and Neil Etheridge.
Guirado jumpstarted the Azkals’ offensive onslaught with an eighth-minute goal from the left flank just outside the box.
De Murga, a defender, doubled the Filipino booters’ lead four minutes later when his shot from the right side found the back of the net. It was De Murga’s first-ever goal for the Azkals.
The Filipino-Spanish Guirado again scored just before halftime to give the Azkals a 3-0 lead.
“The way we dominated the match should give us positive feedback,” Weiss said.
The Azkals wavered a bit in the second half as Misagh Bahadoran, Jeffrey Christiaens, Jason de Jong and Andrew Gonzales made appearances from the substitutes bench.
The Guamanians, as a result, finally found holes in the Azkals' defense but failed to capitalize, their best chance a right-side attempt from Jonah Romero late in the second half.
“This was still a good test for us,” Weiss said. “But I hope we could bring the team further up and face stronger competition in the future. We try to make the best in the short term.”
Guam coach Gary White was thankful for the opportunity to play the Azkals.
“It would be quite easy to dismiss us because of our world ranking. But as you can see, that world ranking really doesn’t set us where we should be,” he said.
The next step of the Azkals’ preparation is a 15-day training camp in the United States, including a match against Major League Soccer squad Chicago Fire.