Asian football

Etheridge banners ‘optimistic’ Azkals in World Cup qualifiers

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Etheridge banners ‘optimistic’ Azkals in World Cup qualifiers 

BACK IN ACTION. The Philippine men’s football team hopes to draw a bigger crowd in its home games.


Hoping to draw more local support, the Azkals parade a ‘good mixture of experienced mainstays’ and ‘young well-developing talents’ in its home games in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers

MANILA, Philippines – Longtime national goalkeeper Neil Etheridge leads the Philippine men’s football team in the FIFA World Cup 2026/AFC Asian Cup 2027 Preliminary Joint Qualifiers Round 2 this November. 

Azkals coach Michael Weiss said it’s a “good mixture” of national team mainstays and rising talents as the Philippines clashes with Vietnam on November 16 and Indonesia on November 21 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila. 

Team captain Etheridge’s fellow veterans Manny Ott, Patrick Reichelt, Mike Ott, Kenshiro Daniels, OJ Porteria, and Daisuke Sato also headline the 26-man roster.

“It’s a good mixture of experienced mainstays for a long time and young well-developing talents brought on by the recent performances of Philippine clubs in AFC competitions,” said Weiss. 

“It gives us reason to be optimistic for our first World Cup qualifier matches against Vietnam and Indonesia.” 

Weiss said he based his selection on player availability as well as the last five FIFA international friendly matches against Nepal, Chinese Taipei, Afghanistan, and Bahrain from June to October 2023. 

“We focus on the ones who are with us for the qualifiers,” said Weiss.  

The Azkals also hope to make the most of their home advantage, launching the campaign #StandYourGround #10KStrong to encourage support for the team against the two Southeast Asian rivals.

“A very important factor is the enthusiasm and support of the 12th man,” said Weiss. “We hope the fans come in numbers to the stadium, and be part of history.”

Here’s the 26-man lineup:

  1. ETHERIDGE, Neil Leonard 
  2. HANSEN, Kevin Ray
  3. DEYTO, Patrick Phillip
  4. ROTA, Simone 
  5. MARTINEZ DE MURGA, Carlos Alberto 
  6. TABINAS, Jefferson David
  7. RONTINI, Christian
  8. CURRAN, Jesse Thomas 
  9. SATO, Daisuke
  10. RUBLICO, Santiago
  11. VILLANUEVA, Dennis
  12. LYNGBO, Simen Alexander
  13. BUGAS, Pocholo
  14. PORTERIA, Jose Elmer
  15. OTT, Manuel
  16. OTT, Mike Rigoberto
  17. KEKKONEN, Oskari
  18. INGRESO, Kevin
  19. BAAS, Mikel Justin
  20. REICHELT, Patrick
  21. MARAÑON, Bienvenido
  22. MENZI, Audie
  23. ANGELES, Marwin Janver 
  24. MELLIZA, Jesus Joaquin
  25. DANIELS, Kenshiro Michael 
  26. SCHRÖCK, Stephan Markus 

– Rappler

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