Azkals’ Neil Etheridge back in PH, shares valuable Premier League experiences

Cardiff City FC’s Filipino goalkeeper Neil Etheridge is in the country for a three-week vacation. But he made time for the media in order to impart some of his experiences in the recently concluded Premier League season and his plans with regards to the Azkals and what’s next for him with Cardiff City.

During the roundtable, he shared his personal views regarding Cardiff City FC’s Premier League campaign and how the season unfolded.

Despite his club eventually being relegated down to the Championship after the 2018-19 campaign, the Filipino shot-stopper was able to come up with a commendable performance all-season long, notching 10 clean sheets with 141 total saves and three penalty saves (two of which were in his Premier League debut).

“At the end of the day, it’s a team sport… You win together, you lose together,” Etheridge shared to the media focusing more on the team rather than dwelling on his personal achievements and milestones.

“Ultimately, at the end of the season, we fell short by two points and were unable to stay in the (Premier) League,” added Neil.


It is to note though that given the Azkals sentinel’s commendable efforts and good overall form in manning the posts for The Bluebirds, despite the drop to the Championship for next season, speculations started to hover regarding Neil in terms of a possible return to the top flight via a transfer to a Premier League club, with West Ham as one of the first of such to be rumoured as having an interest.

However, amidst such rumours, Cardiff City’s current first choice sentry made it clear that, at this very moment, he is still with the Welsh club.

“At the end of the day, I (still) got two years left in my contract with Cardiff (City) and the future is out of my hands,” Etheridge shared.


Neil Etheridge also touched on his current situation with the Azkals declaring that he wants to be in the squad, particularly in the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers in September this year.

He also emphasised that he has been with the Philippine National Team for 11 years, starting when he was just 18-years-old, and with such a length of involvement, he doesn’t want to just drop all those just for the sake of concentrating on his club career.

“I want to continue being a part of the Azkals. I feel like I have a lot more to give,” said Neil.


It has been known that Neil’s path to the current level he is in right now as a highly regarded goalkeeper has not been easy.

A promising career early on experienced challenges along the way. However, his persistence and focus eventually put him back at an upward trajectory towards the highest level of competition possible in England – the Premier League.

Such success story make him an example for many. Hence, when asked for advise and message of encouragement in conquering obstacles, especially to people who look up to him as an inspiration here’s what the now larger-than-life Azkal has to say:

“First of all thank you to everyone who supported me. It has been a long journey to get to where I am. It hasn’t been easy. It was a roller-coaster ride. But, ultimately, I think I have the ability to get to where I am. Challenges aren’t just on the field, but off the field too.”

“I’m talking to everyone who’s doing their own job (but are) finding it hard, to look always for the positives, always try to find the light at the end of the tunnel because there’s always one and I hope they find it one day.”


Azkals overseas: March 2019 weekend 1 fixtures

A new month is upon us. Here are the fixtures of Philippine internationals who are playing in overseas leagues this weekend.

Note: All schedules are in Philippine Standard Time

Neil Etheridge, GK – Cardiff City FC [Premier League]

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Cardiff City FC: March 2, Saturday at 11:00PM

Daisuke Sato, DF – Sepsi OSK [Romanian Liga I Playoff]

CFR Cluj vs Sepsi OSK: March 4, Monday at 2:00AM

John Patrick Strauss, MF – Erzgebirge Aue [2. Bundesliga]

SV Sandhausen vs Erzgebirge Aue: March 2, Saturday at 8:00PM

Kevin Ray Mendoza, GK – AC Horsens [Danish Superliga]

Esbjerg vs AC Horsens – March 3, Sunday at 1:00AM

Jordan Jarvis, DF – Eastern [Hong Kong Premier League]

Sun Pegasus vs Eastern – March 2, Saturday at 8:00PM

Amani Aguinaldo, DF – PKNP [Malaysia Super League]

PKNP vs Pahang – March 2, Saturday at 9:00PM

Joshua Grommen, DF – PJ City FC [Malaysia Super League]

Felda United vs PJ City FC – March 2, Saturday at 9:00PM

Patrick Reichelt, MF – Melaka United vs Luke Woodland, DF – Kuala Lumpur FA [Malaysia Premier League]

Melaka United vs Kuala Lumpur – March 3, Sunday at 9:00PM

Hikaru Minegishi, MF – JL Chiangmai United [Thai League 2]

JL Chiangmai United vs BG Pathum United – March 3, Sunday at 7:00PM

Mark Hartmann, FW – Suphanburi vs Javier Patino, FW & Stephan Palla, DF – Buriram United [Thai League 1]

DONE: Suphanburi 0 – 0 Buriram United – March 1, Friday at 8:00PM

Michael Falkesgaard, GK – Bangkok United [Thai League 1]

Bangkok United vs Muangthong United – March 2, Saturday at 8:00PM

Iain Ramsay, MF – Sukhothai [Thai League 1]

Chiangmai vs Sukhothai – March 2, Saturday at 9:00PM

Marco Casambre, DF & Adam Reed, MF – Chainat Hornbill [Thai League 1]

Trat vs Chainat Hornbill – March 3, Sunday at 7:00PM

Amin Nazari, MF & Manuel Ott, MF – Ratchaburi Mitr Phol [Thai League 1]

Port FC vs Ratchaburi Mitr Phol – March 3, Sunday at 8:00PM

Photo credits: Buriram United Facebook, Suphanburi Facebook, Sukhothai Facebook, Melaka United Facebook, Neil Etheridge Instagram,


Azkals overseas fixtures for February 2019: Weekend 2

The Philippine Azkals based overseas are now slowly getting back into the pitch with the commencement of leagues in Asia while those based in Europe have their respective clubs ready to compete once again after the winter break.

Here are their fixtures you may follow this weekend [kickoff times are in Philippine Standard Time or GMT +8]:

Patrick Reichelt [Melaka United – Malaysia Super League]

PKNS FC vs Melaka United [Away] – February 9, 2019 [Saturday]. Kickoff at 9:00PM

After getting a good start with his new club Melaka United via a win at home against Petaling Jaya City FC, Patrick Reichelt and his teammates are aiming to build on the result as they visit PKNS to make it two wins in two matches.

Joshua Grommen [Petaling Jaya City – Malaysia Super League]

Petaling Jaya City vs Selangor [Home] – February 9, 2019 [Saturday]. Kickoff at 9:00PM

Joshua Grommen’s club may have slipped in its first MSL assignment against Melaka United but for their second fixture, they get to face Selangor at their home turf.

Although the Filipino defender received plaudits for his combative efforts by playing through an injury, him suiting up this weekend could still be in doubt as he gets monitored on his fitness after suffering a dislocated shoulder.

UPDATE: According to Rudolf, Joshua Grommen’s father, the player will feature for the squad and will wear a special shoulder brace so he can play.

Neil Etheridge [Cardiff City – Premier League]

Southampton vs Cardiff City FC [Away] – February 9, 2019 [Saturday]. Kickoff at 11:00PM

Cardiff City will build on the win they have achieved against Bournemouth the previous matchday with Azkals keeper Neil Etheridge pulling off some crucial saves. But they’ll be facing Southampton next time as visitors while they try to pull themselves out of the relegation zone.

Daisuke Sato [Sepsi OSK – Romania Liga I]

Sepsi OSK vs Dinamo Bucuresti [Home]- February 10, 2019 [Sunday]. Kickoff 2:00AM

Daisuke Sato’s club Sepsi OSK slipped against Voluntari in their post-winter break opener, but the next fixture will still most possibly be a challenge still as they go up against Dinamo Bucuresti, as the Sfantu Gheorghe-based club will try to keep themselves in the top half of the league and avoid the relegation playout.

Hikaru Minegishi [JL Chiangmai United – Thai League 2]

JL Chiangmai United vs Udon Thani FC [Home] – February 10, 2019 [Sunday]. Kickoff 7:00PM

Hikaru Minegishi will debut for his newly promoted club JL Chiangmai United in Thailand’s League 2, with the optimism of coming up with an excellent campaign in the second-tier.

Kevin Ray Mendoza Hansen [AC Horsens – Danish Superliga]

Hobro vs Horsens [Away] – February 10, 2019 [Sunday]. Kickoff at 7:00PM

Kevin Ray Mendoza will suit up for AC Horsens after the winter break. Let’s see if he will be a starter for the club.

Horsens still have six games left to improve their standing [currently 8th] and qualify for the championship round.

John-Patrick Strauss [FC Erzgebirge Aue – 2. Bundesliga]

Erzgebirge Aue vs Ingolstadt – February 10, 2019 [Sunday]. Kickoff at 8:30PM

John-Patrick Strauss has yet to feature as a starter after decent performances for the Azkals in both the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 and AFC Cup 2019. The club will hope to climb further up the standings as they are currently in the lower half of the table [13th out of 18].

Photo credits: Hikaru Minegishi, Sepsi OSK, Cardiff City FC, Melaka United SA


Azkals in overseas clubs: 1st weekend of February 2019 fixtures

With club football starting to be back [with the exception of the Premier League] for several countries as the winter break comes to a close while the football season slowly begins in Asia, here is the list of games this weekend in different leagues where several Philippine Azkals are playing.

Note: All kick-off times are in Philippine Standard Time [GMT +8]

Azkals clash in Malaysia Super League: Patrick Reichelt [Winger/Forward, Melaka United] vs Joshua Grommen [Defender, Petaling Jaya City FC]

Melaka United begin their Super League season at home against Petaling Jaya City on February 2, 2019. Kickoff time is at 9:00 PM.

Neil Etheridge [Goalkeeper, Cardiff City FC; Premier League]

Away fixture vs Bournemouth on Sunday, February 3, 2019. Kickoff time is at 1:30 AM.

Daisuke Sato [Defender, Sepsi OSK; Romanian Liga I]

Away fixture vs Voluntari on Sunday, February 3, 2019. Kickoff time is 11:30 PM.

John-Patrick Strauß [Midfielder, FC Erzgebirge Aue; 2. Bundesliga]

Home fixture vs FC Köln on Sunday, February 3, 2019. Kickoff Time is 8:30 PM.

Photo credits: Rudolf Holland, FC Erzgebirge Aue, Melaka United SA, Daisuke Sato, Neil Etheridge


On Neil Etheridge’s massive Premier League performance for Cardiff City against Leicester

Last night, Philippine time, Cardiff City secured their first win away from home as they pulled off a 1-0 result against Leicester.

The winner came in the form of a spectacular late strike by Victor Camarasa in the 92nd minute.

It may be the winning goal that might have gotten most of the attention due to it’s ‘magical’ nature, but from the defensive end, another talking point of the match has been Philippine Azkals keeper, Neil Etheridge who produced another penalty save in the 75th minute to deny the hosts a possible winner.

With another stellar shift for the Philippines’ colossus between the posts, let’s do a brief crunch on Neil’s current performance a match after the halfway of the season.

The obvious: Three penalty saves after 20 matches

After 20 matches, Neil Etheridge produced 3 saves out of five penalties that he has encountered.

Such hat-trick of saves from the spot currently make him top that particular statistic in the Premier League and is the most obvious attribute that makes him create waves in footballing circles around the world.

But actually, Neil’s other current statistics from a goalkeeping standpoint speak more volumes than just that.

Let’s delve a bit more into the numbers.

Neil Etheridge has the most saves in the Premier League

According to the current Premier League statistics, Etheridge now has the most number of the saves pulled off with 78.

What makes this even more interesting is that he has been one of the busiest of sentries in the league. Those saves he has made were out of the 116 shots he has encountered in the course of the currently on-going season. Out of those, he conceded 38 goals making him second as well in that department.

But despite the number of attempts that were able to beat Neil, in comparison to the ones he was able to deal with, that puts him in a success rate of 67.2%, which is still a pretty decent number as compared to the threats he has had to deal with.

The not so obvious: Neil Etheridge tops The Bluebirds in passing

What’s more interesting here is the Filipino stopper is in the thick of things for Cardiff not just in manning the posts, but also in being involved with ball-movement.

With Cardiff’s penchant for long-balls in their offensive buildup, most of such plays start with Neil. Add to that the number of saves that he pulled off and the ensuing goal-kick, plus the fact that Cardiff usually end up with the lower percentage of possession in most of their matches, it’s no wonder Neil tops this figure.

It’s fair to say that Etheridge is a crucial part of the squad especially now that Cardiff still have a long way to go with regards to their battle towards evading relegation (they are only four points above the drop-zone).

From an Azkals and Asian Cup perspective, what do these mean?

Obviously, these statistics point out that The Philippine Azkals are going to miss a top-quality player in their ranks as they participate in the biggest tournament they’ve qualified to in their history.

But in the end, it seems that not suiting up for the national team is the best option to take as Neil finally focuses on his club duties with the stellar performance against Leicester probably a proof already that foregoing his participation in the Asian Cup is the best decision to take.

For sure, Neil will still be available to suit up for the Philippines, and that is for a much higher purpose: The 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

From a club career perspective, does this open up opportunities for Neil?

Absolutely. But, whatever the future brings for the currently in-form stopper, it is most probably that any plans for a move away from Cardiff will not be initiated by Neil himself given that the club gave him the career-breakthrough for him to really showcase his goalkeeping ability and fulfil his potential at the highest level.

Photo credit: Neil Etheridge Twitter account

Azkals in Europe: Neil Etheridge stood out for Cardiff City in draw with Crystal Palace

Neil Etheridge pulled off another fine performance with a clean sheet for Cardiff City FC in a goalless away draw against Crystal Palace last December 26 to keep themselves out of the relegation zone.

In the course of the match, the Philippines’ sentry produced two highlight saves out of a total of five, one on the 15th minute when he denied Luka Milivojevic’s attempt and another more crucial stop in the 81st, denying Wilfried Zaha to keep the stalemate and add a precious point in the standings after the Boxing Day clash.

The result puts Cardiff City at 15 points in the Premier League table after Matchweek 19 – three points and one place above the drop zone at 17th place.

As for Neil Etheridge’s contributions, his exploits between the posts for the particular fixture earned recognition, particularly in Fantasy Football circles.


Cardiff City’s next fixture will be against currently in-form Leicester City on December 29, 2018 at 11:00PM HKT.

Photo credit: Neil Etheridge Twitter account