MANILA – Two of the Philippine Azkals’ key players are likely to be sidelined for the rest of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup due to injuries.
Keeper Neil Etheridge and defender Juani Guirado are expected to sit out the Azkals’ crucial game against Turkmenistan on Saturday due to injuries sustained in previous games.
Etheridge was replaced by Roland Mueller in the Laos match due to a quad injury.
Guirado, on the other hand, was carried out of the pitch on a stretcher after colliding with a Laotian defender in the second half of the game.
“I don’t want to say that it is sad or bad that we have an injury now. Juani, he might be out for the whole tournament,” said Azkals coach Thomas Dooley in the Challenge Cup’s official website.
“Neil came and he had ice on his knee and I was asking him and he said he was 100%, but after the game he is injured and he said he cannot play anymore.”
Dooley, nevertheless, is confident that other players will step up in the absence of Etheridge and Guirado when they play against the Turkmens, who suffered a 3-1 loss to Afghanistan on Thursday night.
“This is something that we have to deal with as we have to see what we have and we have great players on the bench who can come in and do the same job,” said the coach.
The Azkals are coming off a 2-0 win over Laos in a match where most pundits believe the Filipino players could have piled more goals.
Dooley, however, said that winning the match is more important to them than scoring more goals.
"We knew we had to win the game to continue our path, but it was not important to score five goals, but important to win the game," he said.
"If we could score more goals that would be great, but if you think about that in the beginning about how many goals you might score, you might lose.”