February 21, 2024

Neil Etheridge gets strong message from Vietnam player after Azkals' 'tough defeat'

Neil Etheridge gets strong message from Vietnam player after Azkals

Neil Etheridge is arguably the face of the Philippine Azkals. His long tenure with the national team, starting when he switched allegiance from England to the Philippines when he was 18 years old, has made him quite popular.

His solid stint with top-tier club Birmingham City has also made him more well-known, with more and more fans getting familiar with the talented goalkeeper.

On Thursday, he met one of his supporters during the Azkals' match against Vietnam in the second round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. But the fan wasn't on the packed bleachers. He was on the pitch. Playing for Vietnam.

Etheridge's counterpart goalkeeper, Dang Van Lam, posted on Instagram Story a photo of him meeting the Azkals skipper. And he only had nice words to say for Etheridge.

"Finally met on the field! Big respect and wish you all the best in your career," wrote Van Lam, tagging Etheridge.

Like Etheridge, Van Lam was a foreign recruit. Born in Russia, the 30-year-old goalkeeper made his debut for Vietnam in 2011 as part of its youth squad. He currently plays for Binh Dinh FC.

The 30-year-old Van Lam recorded a clean sheet against the Azkals, helping Vietnam to a 2-0 win.

Etheridge, meanwhile, thanked all the fans who trooped to the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila to watch the game. More than 10,300 fans was the official count.

"The support is much appreciated by us all. It was a tough defeat for us all to take with chances for us that could have changed the game. But we all stick together and go again on Tuesday. Our team is still in good spirits, and we will keep fighting," wrote Etheridge in his Instagram Story.

The Azkals will next face Indonesia at the same venue. 

ALSO READ: Gauging the opposition: Azkals take on rough neighbors in FIFA World Cup qualifiers

Only the top two teams of each group will advance to the third round.