The Spanish hitman raised the profile of Malaysian football despite ending his Johor Darul Takzim stay on an anti-climatic noteThere was no fitting farewell for Spanish hitman Dani Guiza as he ended his short yet colorful stint with Johor Darul Takzim.
Handed the captain’s armband on his final appearance with the Southern Tigers, the capacity 30, 000 home crowd roared aloud when the striker’s name was announced on the loudspeaker.
But Guiza cut a peripheral figure on the pitch as Selangor weren’t intent on giving him the perfect send-off. Norazlan Razali played a big part in Guiza’s anti-climax, twice denying the hitman with superb saves, especially the penalty save early in the second half.
Guiza’s body language ultimately summed up his stay with Johor Darul Takzim these last few weeks.The Getafe loanee always cut a frustrated figure on the pitch, cringing and wincing at every decision that went against him. He even looked angry after scoring a double against Terengganu in the league last week, perhaps knowing that he wouldn’t be staying with the Southern Tigers for much longer.
The management of JDT may live to regret not extending Guiza’s contract beyond August, which meant he would not have been able to feature in the Malaysia Cup, thus having to exit the club in the upcoming April transfer window.
Perhaps Guiza did not want to stay on after Tunku Ismail Idris, the man who brought him over, was banned from taking part in any football activities for six months by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).
As disconsolate as he may have seemed at times, Dani Guiza could never be faulted for a lack of heart on the field.
He was seen deep in Johor’s midfield against Selangor, eager to receive the ball and make things happen for his side. The 2008 La Liga topscorer was also a vocal authority on the pitch, always encouraging his team-mates on, despite the language barrier.
The Cadiz born man will perhaps be remembered best for his stunning 35-yard free-kick against Kelantan in the league. Eight goals in 12 appearances was a pretty good return from the striker, who repaid his hefty investment despite not featuring in every game.
Dani Guiza was however not just a goal poacher, he was also a crowd puller.
The Larkin stadium, which played out to virtually empty stands before this, now has filled up to the rafters as Johorians began turning up in droves to see a world class talent in action. Guiza’s exploits in Malaysia also created waves in Spain amongst his fervent fanbase who were sometimes seen in the Larkin stadium, mingling with local supporters to cheer on the Southern outfit.
So while Dani Guiza did not get his final hurrah, he can be proud of his short stint in Malaysia. He helped raised the profile of the game in the country, brought together local unity and most importantly, made Johor Darul Takzim a force to be reckoned with this season.
Adios Dani Guiza, you have been a blessing to Malaysian football!