By Emil C. Noguera, Reporter
FILIPINO-BRITISH Neil Etheridge sees a good chance when the Philippines takes on Mongolia
in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup beginning on February 9 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
“I think we will have a very good chance against them. I’m sure we can pull through and qualify,” said Etheridge in an e-mail sent to The Manila Times.
The 6’3” goalkeeper is more than excited to play in front of the thousands of Filipinos who are expected to flock to Bacolod to support the Philippine football team also known as “Azkals.”
“I would love to be able to play in front of all our [Filipino] fans. I think myself and all the other players just want us to succeed and keep the ball rolling for football in the Philippines,” he added.
Etheridge’s AFC Challenge Cup stint, however, is still uncertain because of his commitment in the prestigious English Premier League
(EPL) in the United Kingdom. He has been elevated to the first team of the Fulham Football Club as top goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer is expected to see action for Australia in the upcoming Asian Cup in Doha, Qatar.
“I will only be able to come out two days before the games because we have a very busy schedule for the league [EPL]. I will find out close to the time but if all goes well, I will be attending the Challenge Cup,” said Etheridge.
The Philippines, currently ranked 150th in the FIFA (International Football Federation) and 28th in the AFC, is looking to get past Mongolia to advance in the AFC Challenge Cup group stage scheduled from March 20 to 31 in Bangladesh.