By Cedelf P. Tupas
PROLIFIC striker Javier Patiño, a notable absentee in the last two major tournaments of the Philippine Azkals, has made himself available for the World Cup Qualifiers starting next month.
Now playing for Henan Jianye in the Chinese Super League, the 27-year-old Fil-Spanish should bolster the Azkals’ attack which has been left wanting in some of the most important matches last year.
Patiño missed the AFC Challenge Cup and the AFF Suzuki Cup due to injuries last year. He also skipped the Azkals training camp in Bahrain in March, prompting coach Thomas Dooley to question his willingness to play for the country.
Patiño only played under Dooley once in a friendly against Azerbaijan in March last year.
But Azkals manager Dan Palami said he has already received a commitment from Patiño to play for the Azkals, who landed in a tough World Cup qualifying group that includes Bahrain, Uzbekistan, North Korea and Yemen.
“He was always interested in playing for the Azkals, but only needed to make arrangements with his club in China,” said Palami. “Now that all things are cleared, he will play.”
Patiño has been in scintillating form since transferring from Thailand’s Buriram United to Henan, scoring five goals in his first seven games in the Chinese league.
The Azkals face Bahrain in their WCQ opener on June 11 at Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan.
Read more: http://sports.inquirer.net/181388/fil-spanish-striker-back-with-ph-azkals#ixzz3ZwrLZIvR