Neil Etheridge, Juani Guirado injured; could be out for rest of Challenge Cup

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The Philippine national men’s football team could miss the services of two of key stalwarts for the remainder of the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup after they suffered injuries.

Seasoned goalkeeper Neil Etheridge missed the Azkals’ 2-nil victory over Laos on Thursday after hurting his thigh, while veteran defender Juani Guirado injured his knee during that match and was taken out on a stretcher in the second half.

“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,” Dooley said, as quoted by the AFC’s official website.

“Neil came and he had ice on his knee and I was asking him and he said he was 100 percent, but after the game he is injured and he said he cannot play anymore.”

Etheridge and Guirado are vital components of the Azkals defense, which have not surrendered a goal in their first two matches of the tournament.

Despite the injuries, Dooley remained optimistic and said that this will open the door for the other players to step up.

“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,” Dooley said.

Filipino-German Roland Mueller replaced Etheridge between the sticks for the Azkals against Laos, while young Amani Aguinaldo came in for Guirado early in the second half.

The Azkals will play Turkmenistan on Saturday, needing at least a draw to advance to the semifinals of the Challenge Cup, whose champion is guaranteed of a spot in the prestigious Asian Cup in 2015.

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