Etheridge committed to Azkals for WCQ
Neil Etheridge may be basking in the glow of an impressive English Premier League season, but that doesn’t mean he’s not missing life with the Philippine Azkals.
In fact, Etheridge, who missed the AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates due to club commitments, said he’s fully committed to help the Azkals when they plunge into action in the Fifa World Cup Qualifiers (WCQ) starting in September.
On a three-week break in the Philippines following a gruelling last two seasons with Cardiff City, the goalkeeper said he has already excused himself from being selected for the international match against China in Guangzhou on June 7.
But Etheridge said he remains committed to suit up for flag and country with the next cycle of qualifying starting September.
“Of course, I want to be part of the Azkals going into the World Cup Qualifiers,” Etheridge said.
“People have said, ‘Is he just gonna play Premier League Football and just drop the Azkals?’ No, because I’ve been a part of that team for 11 years, and you don’t just drop something after 11 years. Right now, we want to try to qualify for the World Cup. Now we want to try to get to the next Asian Cup and do better.”
Etheridge reached great heights in his first season as a Premier League starter with Cardiff, coming up with 10 clean sheets and three penalty saves.
But even with his string of stellar performances, Cardiff was one of the three clubs relegated back to the Championship.
The terrific season has sparked interest from other clubs in the Premier League, but the goalkeeper said he still has two years left in his deal with Cardiff.
Etheridge said it would take a collective effort not just from the players for the Azkals to reach the next level.
“I think everyone involved in that team wants the national team, the Azkals to move forward, but that needs to not just come from the players and the coaching staff; that needs to come from everyone behind the scenes all the way to the top,” he said.
Your weekly sports analysis
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.