THE Philippine men’s football team suffered a major blow when starting goalkeeper Neil Etheridge decided to stay with England professional club Bristol than join the Azkals in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup.
In a major setback to the Azkals’ bid to match if not surpass their unprecedented semifinal finish in the 2010 Suzuki Cup, Etheridge, who was loaned by Premiere League team Fulham, has decided not to make the trip to the Suzuki Cup and help the Bristol Rovers stave off elimination in England's fourth-tier league.
"Neil has decided he won't be going to the tournament,” Rovers coach Mark McGhee said in an online report by the Bristol Post.
"We'd still have had Sam Walker here if Neil had chosen to go to and he showed us what a good and reliable goalkeeper he is when he came back in against Sheffield United a couple of weeks ago after a long absence,” McGhee added.
With second-choice 'keeper Roland Muller’s availability still hanging in the balance, the Azkals would have to choose between Ed Sacapaño and Ref Cuaresma as the team’s last line of defense in the Thailand tournament.