Sports

Etheridge ‘emotional’ after Azkals rediscover old fight


Neil Etheridge (right, crouching) wants the Azkals to sustain a “winning mentality.” —PFF PHOTO

Neil Etheridge (right, crouching) wants the Azkals to sustain a “winning mentality.” —PFF PHOTO

Neil Etheridge believes the fight shown by the team in a comeback victory over Afghanistan in a friendly match on Tuesday will benefit the Philippine Azkals ahead of their campaign in the World Cup/Asian Cup Qualifiers in November.

“I was so emotional after the game because I felt that this was the first time in a long time that I saw a fight in an Azkals team,” the veteran goalkeeper said after the 2-1 victory at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Azkals came through with the win after Jens Rasmussen scored a terrific goal off a solo effort and Christian Rontini produced the go-ahead score after Afghanistan took the lead past the hour mark.

It capped off an international window which saw the Azkals come seconds close to putting up a win over Chinese-Taipei before settling for a 1-1 draw in Kaohsiung amid rainy conditions four nights earlier.

Another window is slated next month, with coach Michael Weiss revealing that the Azkals will likely head to Bahrain for a camp that will serve as final preparations for the joint qualifiers.

Weiss begged off from revealing the names of potential opponents for the two friendlies.

The Azkals are in a tough group for the second round of the qualifiers with Iraq, Vietnam and the winner of the two-legged playoff between Indonesia and Brunei.

But if the current squad can sustain the mentality Etheridge last saw in past editions of the national team, the Azkals could give their foes fits.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of a team many years ago that wasn’t as technically good, but had the mentality that we had to win,” he said.

“We could have rolled over after we conceded one-nil, but we didn’t,” added Etheridge. “We just want to build a winning mentality.”



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