Neil Etheridge, who was brilliant for Cardiff City in the recently-concluded Premier League season, have confirmed that he will be a part of the Philippines squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers starting September 2019.
Etheridge was named the Player of the Season by Cardiff City despite the club failing to stay up in the English top division. And the Azkals star has been a transfer target for a number of clubs including West Ham United.
“Of course, I want to be part of the Azkals going into the World Cup Qualifiers,” Etheridge told the Inquirer. The 29-year-old had missed the later stages of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 as well as the AFC Asian Cup 2019 due to club commitments.
It took them almost three months later, but @cedelfpt finally got To present the Philippine Sportswriters’ Association’s Mr, Football Award To @neil38etheridge. https://t.co/goVemeMVCX pic.twitter.com/uhZmlwgulF
— PHSports LiveScores (@LiveScoresPH) May 23, 2019
“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,” said Etheridge, who has 62 international caps for the Philippines.
“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,” he said. Philippines are set to join the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup joint-qualifiers in the second round later in the year.
“I think everyone involved in that team wants the national team 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,” Etheridge said in the interview to the newspaper.