BACOLOD CITY—Philippines’ goalkeeper Neil Etheridge has expressed doubts of his availability for the second leg of the Azkals’ AFC Challenge Cup qualifying duel against Mongolia in Ulan Bator.
Etheridge said commitments with his club, Fulham, could prevent him from joining the team in the Mongolian capital on March 15, where the Philippines will try to preserve a 2-0 lead in the home leg.
If the Azkals hold on to their lead or even score an away win, they will move on to the second round of qualifying in Chittagong, Bangladesh from March 21 to 30.
“I will be away for too long and the club may not allow that,” said the 21-year-old Etheridge. “But of course, I am also considering the importance of the match.”
Etheridge, third in Fulham’s goalkeeper list, was busier playing in the outfield rather than making saves in Wednesday night’s match as the Mongolians offered little attacking threat.
The shutout victory kept Etheridge’s record of not conceding a goal at home. Etheridge has not given up a single goal in four games when matches are played in the Philippines.
Etheridge is set to negotiate a new deal with Fulham when he returns to London this weekend.
After signing one-year contracts in the past years, the 6-foot-3 keeper has finally caught the eye of the London-based squad as a long-term prospect.
The new contract, Etheridge said, will run for a minimum of two years.