PH men's football faces mammoth task after mangling by Iraqis

PH men’s football faces mammoth task after mangling by Iraqis

/ 05:15 AM March 28, 2024

Philippines' goal keeper Neil Etheridge azkals

Philippines’ goal keeper Neil Etheridge n the Fifa World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers at Rizal Memorial Stadium. –MARLO CUETO/

Neil Etheridge couldn’t hide the disappointment of the Philippine men’s football team’s failure to build on its valiant stand, as a rough setback at home to Iraq in their return match dampened the Filipinos’ chances of advancing in the World Cup Qualifiers.

“It’s tough coming off of traveling to their place, and only losing narrowly, to coming back home and losing such a difficult score,” Etheridge said after the team formerly known as the Azkals suffered a 5-0 loss on Tuesday despite 10,014 fans at Rizal Memorial Stadium egging them on.

Etheridge and the Philippines will now need to win both away matches in June against Indonesia and Vietnam for a chance to secure a second-place finish in Group F.


READ: PH men’s football team’s World Cup bid suffers blow with 5-0 loss

Indonesia tightened its hold on second spot after defeating Vietnam in the other group match to go seven points in the table.

The Philippines lags behind at the bottom with one point, trailing third-running Vietnam by two.

Iraq has already advanced to the next round of World Cup qualification with its fourth win in as many matches for 12 points.


“It’s a learning curve for us, and we know that we have a big task at hand,” said the goalkeeper for English Football League Championship side Birmingham City.

“Realistically, we need six points,” added Etheridge, whose team will be relegated to the third round of the Asian Cup if things don’t favor the Philippine squad.


Meanwhile, Etheridge and the supporters group Ultra Filipinas buried the hatchet over the postmatch incident during the November home date with Indonesia when the two sides got into a disagreement on using the “Viking clap.”

Etheridge, the team and the Ultras did the clap moments after the stinging setback to show that the incident is already water under the bridge.

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TAGS: Neil Etheridge, World Cup Qualifiers

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