Etheridge happy to be back with Azkals

BBC (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANDALUYONG--Just in time for the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, the Philippines' top goalkeeper makes a comeback.

Neil Etheridge accepted the call-up from Azkals coach Thomas Dooley and will once again don jersey no. 1 for the nationals for their showdown with Bahrain in Bocaue next Thursday.

Speaking to Dugout Philippines at the Azkals' LGR kit launch at the Sparta Indoor Pitch on Wednesday night, the former Charlton keeper said, "It's fantastic to be back, and it's great that I'll be wearing the no. 1 jersey in the game on June 11."

The 25-year-old Etheridge, one of only three players from the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup team that pulled off the "Miracle in Hanoi", which catapulted the Azkals to a Southeast Asian football powerhouse, that got a call-up for the WCQ, continued, "I work hard everyday and try to prove myself day-by-day to get better. The team comes first, and I hope that we will succeed not just on June 11 but the entire World Cup."

On the other hand, Etheridge will have Patrick Deyto, who has been an Azkals starter recently, and Tomas Trigo as backups, and Etheridge is ready to teach them the needed maturity to take charge of the team in the future.

"I will try to help them on and off the field," Etheridge vowed, while adding that his main focus is on his health come the qualifiers, which will also serve as a tournament to land slots in the AFC Asian Cup.

Speaking of the tournament, Etheridge said that they will take it game-by-game, and he considered every match as important.