Great intrigue will surround the squad named for next month’s star-studded King’s Cup in Thailand after the UAE Football’s Association’s clampdown on errant leading men Omar Abdulrahman and Ali Mabkhout continued with the pair’s appeals rejected against controversial domestic bans accrued for misbehaviour on international duty.
2016 AFC Player of the Year Abdulrahman, 26, and 2015 Asian Cup top marksman Mabkhout, 27, were given four-match suspensions on January 23 after they had been found guilty of leaving the Whites’ hotel in Kuwait City without permission from 20:15-22:30 the night before January 5’s dismal penalty-shootout defeat to lowly Oman in the Gulf Cup final. Utility-man Mohammed Fawzi, 27, was also found to have been part of the infraction, but escaped a ban as he was unavailable for the game.
Abdulrahman’s Al Ain plus Mabkhout and Fawzi’s Al Jazira had attempted to get the punishments overturned. But this was rejected out of hand by the Appeals Committee on Sunday.
Alberto Zaccheroni’s squad are next scheduled to feature in Bangkok from March 23-25 in a tournament organisers say will feature stellar Arsenal signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with Gabon, Napoli icon Marek Hamsik with Slovakia and World Cup 2018-qualifying nemesis Thailand – an abysmal 1-1 draw in June on their last visit to Rajamangala National Stadium virtually ended hopes of progression. Whether the aforementioned trio feature will dominate the build-up.
In the wake of their punishments being announced last month, all three pledged their continued commitment to the UAE on Twitter.
Mabkhout and Abdulrahman both served just one of their four-match suspensions before they were frozen when the appeal process was initiated.
Sunday’s events mean Mabkhout will miss Arabian Gulf League clashes at Al Wasl on Wednesday and at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium against Hatta on February 23, plus the Arabian Gulf Cup quarter-final decider at home to Dibba Al Fujairah on February 15. He will be able to feature in the opening two matches of Group A in the 2018 AFC Champions League when Wesley Sneijder’s Al Gharafa of Qatar travel to Abu Dhabi on February 12 and February 19’s trip to Saudi Arabian giants Al Ahli Jeddah.
‘Amoory’, who is currently nursing an injury problem, will be absent for top-flight fixtures at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium against Emirates Club on Thursday and at Sharjah on February 24, plus the last-eight AG Cup decider at Al Wahda on February 16. In the ACL’s Group D, he can feature at Saudi Professional League champions Al Hilal in his birth city of Riyadh on February 13 and at home to Michael Laudrup’s Al Rayyan of Qatar on February 20.
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