Keeper Neil Etheridge will not join the Philippines men’s national football team at the 2022 World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers because he will undergo surgery, the squad said in a statement Saturday.
The Azkals will also miss midfielders Patrick Strauss (injury) and Iain Ramsay (travel restrictions), and defenders Carli de Murga (no China visa) and Niko de Vera (family emergency).
The nature of Etheridge’s and Strauss’ injuries were not revealed.
Also ruled out from the competitions are Raphael Obermair (begged off) and Gerrit Holtmann (passport issue).
Azkals team manager Dan Palami acknowledged that the absences have affected their preparations for the qualifiers as it thinned the pool to just 20 men.
"Yes, a lot of things happened. A player had to leave camp, because there's a family emergency. Then some of the players who are supposed to be here had to beg off due to several documentary deficiencies, therefore, unable to participate," Palami said in the Azkals Facebook page.
"Even then, we have courageous, talented skillful players who are here with us. There will be 20 players, 3 keepers and 17 outfield players."
The Azkals are currently holding camp in Doha, Qatar before heading to Suzhou, China where the qualifiers will take place.
Among the Azkals regulars present are team captain Stephan Schrock, Angel Guirado, and Mark Hartmann.
"We're happy to have them and the coaching staff will work on them them and will make sure we will be able to give everybody a good fight and make good representations of ourselves as a Philippine team," said Palami.
The Philippines will begin its campaign on June 3 against Guam, China on June 9 and the Maldives on June 15.
"We'll have to make do and like any Philippine team, lumalaban kahit dehado . . . We just need to take it one game at a time," Palami said.
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