DON’T look now but former national striker Ian Araneta, with the help of the Stallion Football Club, is bidding to make a comeback with the Philippine Azkals.
Back in harness after a two-year layoff, Araneta was recently released by the Philippine Air Force to the Stallions in the current United Football League Cup competitions and for the rest of the 2015 season.
The 33-year-old pride of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo has flashed glimpses of the form that made him one of the country’s explosive forwards in the last two games of the Ilonggo-studded squad, including last Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Loyola Meralco FC at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
“It’s been a long time but I am so excited for the opportunity given me by Stallion coach Ernie Nierras,” said Araneta, who nearly scored a goal in the second half of the tight match pitting two of the league’s powerhouses.
“Ian can now play at least for 45 minutes. We believe that given proper conditioning he can play longer and contribute more to our team,” Nierras said.
“Ultimately, we hope that he can raise his level of play so that he can make it all the way back to the Azkals.”
Although no longer a spring chicken, Araneta, Nierras added, can still contribute to the Stallion campaign and has been assigned as an attacking midfielder where his maturity and leadership come in handy.
Araneta last saw action for the Azkals under German coach Michael Weiss, who cut him before the start of the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup.
Promising Fil-British winger Levi Fernandez and veteran goalkeeper Johan Noetzel, who once played for Dallas FC in the Major League Soccer in the US, have also bolstered the Stallion’s roster.
Fernandez, 21, who was eyed by three other UFL squads, has been hampered by an ankle injury so far but hopes to show his mettle as the league goes on while Noetzel, who also has an AFC Class A coaching license, has been solid thus far in his first two games with Stallion.
Nierras is proud of the fact that his other players have not minded taking a back seat to the newcomers.
“This is what I like about our team. Our players have no egos and are willing to make sacrifices to win,” he pointed out. “We may have not the best individual players but I believe we can become the league’s best team as we work together.
“I am proud of how we played with intensity against Loyola. This is what I expect of our players: playing hard for 90 minutes and beyond. You will see a lot of improvement as we continue in our drive for the Cup championship.”
Published last: 2015-05-29 06:34:06