RIYADH // The new Saudi Arabia coach Jorge Peseiro has dropped the former Asian Player of the Year Yasser al Qahtani from the national squad for a crucial World Cup match on April 1 after the striker missed a practice session. Al Qahtani, 26, rated the continent's leading player in 2007, played in Al Hilal's club match against Al Wehda on Monday night but skipped a national squad session on Tuesday.
"The coach has decided against including Yasser Al Qahtani after he missed the training and didn't reply repeated phone calls," the Saudi team manager Fahed al Musebeih was quoted saying in a report posted on the Asian Football Confederation's website today. Al Qahtani was already going to miss Saturday's World Cup match against Iran because of suspension. Peseiro has also ruled him out for the match against UAE four days later.
Iran warmed up for Saturday's match with a 1-0 win over Kuwait on Monday night, via Maziar Zareh's penalty in the 84th minute. The Saudis were held to a scoreless draw in a friendly against the Asian Cup champions Iraq on Sunday. Saudi Arabia lie fourth in the five-team Group B half way through the final full round of Asian qualifying for the 2010 World Cup with four points. South Korea lead the group with eight points, one clear of North Korea and two ahead of Iran. The top two teams in Asian Groups A and B earn direct places at the World Cup in South Africa, while the third-place teams in each group play off for a spot in an intercontinental qualifier.