BANGKOK – Eduard Sacapano found himself back in the limelight as possible goalkeeper of the Philippine men’s football team for the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup as the availability of original choice Neil Etheridge still hangs in the balance.
Team manager Dan Palami on Thursday expressed little confidence about Etheridge's chances of suiting up for the team in time for the opening of Southeast Asia's most prestigious tournament on Saturday.
“With the way things are going, we would have to settle with Ed. He'd have to play the game of his life again, and again, and again,” said Palami.
The Bristol Rovers, with whom Etheridge had been playing on loan from English Premier League team Fulham since September, announced on Wednesday that the Filipino-British player would be playing for the Philippines in the AFF tournament.
But Etheridge’s mother club Fulham, later in the day announced that he was being recalled.
“Today we'll know (of his availability), but then again, if he's recalled, it means (there's a good chance na) gagamitin siya, and that he is important,” Palami explained.
Palami said Etheridge was ready, along with his own goalkeeping coach, to leave for Bangkok on Thursday until the 6-foot-2 shot-stopper was later informed of the sudden development.
With second-choice Filipino-German 'keeper Roland Muller's availability also still in question, Palami is now hoping that the homegrown Sacapano would be able to replicate his splendid showing in the team's 1-0 victory over Singapore in their friendly last week in Cebu City.
Against the Lions, the Bago City native rejected numerous shots that were crucial to the victory.
Next to Sacapano in the pecking order is Ref Cuaresma.
The Azkals start their campaign by colliding with the host team on Saturday, before facing Vietnam three days later, and Myanmar on November 30.