Neil Etheridge sees positives in goalless friendly as Azkals gear up for Asian Cup qualifier
Azkals goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was pleased to see the Philippines defense hold up against the Malaysians. Jaime Campos

IT was a disappointing performance on offense for the Philippine Azkals in the game against Malaysia, but for returning goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, it was still a decent defensive showing that they could build on.

The Azkals play a 2019 Asian Cup Qualifiers match against Nepal on Tuesday and Etheridge is hoping they can do better in the crucial match after the goalless draw in the friendly.

[See Thomas Dooley unalarmed after Azkals pegged back by Malaysia in goalless friendly]

"By the end of the day, defensively we kept a clean sheet and that's the main thing," Etheridge told scribes.

"The clean sheet is obviously a foundation you can build on. Like I said before if we could have nicked the first goal, however it may come, it's always the important one," he added.

Etheridge returned to man the post for the Azkals after a brief absence in the 2016 Suzuki Cup and he was rarely called upon for action as his backline held up against the Harimao.

What's important now is how the Azkals work towards their match against Nepal, and Etheridge will be heading into that game full of optimism, although they could be without a key player in Misagh Bahadoran, who hurt his knee in the friendly. 

[See Misagh Bahadoran doubtful for Asian qualifier against Nepal with suspected knee ligament tear]

"It's good. The mood in the camp's great and we look forward to the next game," Etheridge said.

"Hopefully next week we put up a better performance and score more goals. But like I said defensively we kept the  clean sheet and that's the main thing for us."

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