Azkals lose Etheridge to Fullham recallBy Cedelf Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
BANGKOK, Thailand—The good and bad news came quick Wednesday for the Philippines vying in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
The availability of Neil Etheridge for the biennial tournament remains up in the air after a stunning turn of events yesterday left the Filipino-British keeper stranded in London—back with his mother club, Fulham.
Released for national team duty by Bristol Rovers, where he is currently on loan, Etheridge’s plans to suit up for the Azkals in the prestigious tournament hit another snag as he was recalled by the English Premier League club, which will loan out its second choice-keeper David Stockdale to Hull City.
“I can’t go because Fulham recalled me to be No. 2,” said the 22-year-old Etheridge, whose superb performance in the tournament two years ago was one of the keys to the Azkals’ historic semifinal appearance.
“It’s now impossible for me to come.”
Clubs are not inclined to release players because the Suzuki Cup doesn’t fall on an international date.
Azkals manager Dan Palami is now doubling efforts to gain the release of Roland Muller from German second-division club Duisburg.
Without Etheridge or Muller, the 32-year-old Sacapano, who was impressive in the 1-0 win over Singapore last Thursday in Cebu, could start against Thailand. The Bago City-born goalkeeper has the backing of Etheridge.
“It’s good to see him having his time although others see him as a backup,” Etheridge said of Sacapano, who saved a penalty kick against Singapore.