THE Philippine Azkals will wage war in next month's AFC Asian Cup in Dubai without ace goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
In the 23-man roster released Thursday night, it was announced that Etheridge, who currently plays for Cardiff City in the English Premier League, will miss the tournament.
In lieu of Etheridge, Michael Falkesgaard, Kevin Hansen, and Ace Villanueva will now take care of protecting the Philippine post.
Etheridge is one of the key players for Cardiff, which at No. 17 is trying to stave off relegation in the Premier League.
Ranged against Asian powerhouses South Korea, China and Kyrgyz Republic, the Azkals found themselves in a tough group with an opportunity to be one of the 16 teams to advance to the knockout stages.
In preparation for continent’s showpiece tournament, the Philippines will take on newly-crowned AFF Suzuki Cup champions Vietnam on Monday.
The Azkals will proceed to Dubai on Thursday and will have four days to prepare before their first match against the Koreans on Jan. 7.
Majority of the team were part of the Suzuki Cup squad that made it to the semis for the fourth time in the last five editions. Hansen, who plays goalkeeper for Danish side AC Horsens, is the newest addition to the Azkals.
Newly signed Ceres Negros midfielder Miguel Tanton, who suited up for the Philippines in the 3-2 win over North Korea two years ago, returns to the squad.
Also making a comeback is Javier Patiño, who missed the entire Suzuki Cup tournament due to injury.
Headlining the Azkals, who are currently at No. 116 in the latest Fifa world rankings, are the Younghusband brothers, Phil and James.