Etheridge, Caligdong cleared to rejoin Azkals in Nepal
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine campaign in the AFC Challenge Cup got a shot in the arm with goalkeeper Neil Etheridge getting clearance to join the squad in Kathmandu, Nepal for the March 9 to 19 tournament.
Etheridge, a doubtful entry because of club commitments, told the Inquirer that English Premier League side Fulham has agreed to release him for the tournament, where the Azkals will face former champions North Korea, Tajikistan and India.
The 6-foot-3 goalkeeper, who proved solid in the 1-1 stalemate against Malaysia in the
international friendly last Wednesday, is scheduled to arrive in Kathmandu on Wednesday, two days before the first-day clash against North Korea.
Co-skipper Chieffy Caligdong, sidelined for more than a month after sustaining a knee injury in a United Football League match, has also been cleared to play along with veteran defender Rob Gier.
The diminutive yet fleet-footed winger said he has now fully recovered and could have played in the match against Malaysia.
“I would have wanted to play against Malaysia, but we didn’t want to force it,” Caligdong said in Filipino.
Azkals coach Michael Weiss remains hopeful that Paul Mulders, Dennis Cagara and Stephan Schrock will make it to Nepal.
Mulders, who plays club football for ADO Den Haag in the Netherlands, and Cagara have already confirmed their participation, but Weiss can’t seem to stop worrying about their status.
“I will only be settled when they are already in Nepal,” said Weiss.