DUBAI // Earlier in the season Ivan Hasek warned of the risks of playing Ahmed Khalil in too many games. The Al Ahli coach's words, however, fell on deaf ears and his promising young striker is on the sidelines again with an injury. Khalil, the winner of the best youth player award in Asia after his exploits in the AFC Under 19 Championship, will be out of action for a couple of weeks with a leg injury after a hectic schedule in which he played for Ahli in the domestic league and AFC Champions League and also turned out for the country in two 2010 World Cup qualifiers.
"Ahmed is out for two or three weeks," said Hasek. "This is expected if he going to play with so many different teams - the national team, the U20 team. He is never training normally. "I had spoken earlier about this. I said, 'you will kill him if you keep playing him in so many matches with both the senior national team and the U20 side'. But nobody took any heed and now he is injured all the time."
Khalil is one of the seven regulars Hasek who will be missing when Ahli take on Al Khaleej today in the Pro League in Khor Fakkan. The Brazilian striker, Bare, has also been ruled out due to an injury he picked up in Sunday's Dubai derby against Al Wasl, while Mohammed Qassim and Ismail al Hammadi will be sitting out after collecting three bookings. Veteran Salem Khamis and Ahmed Abdullah are still on the injury list, while Ahli's Egyptian Hosny Abd Rabo is serving a four-match suspension for the red card he picked up during the first-leg of the Etisalat Cup semi-final against Al Wahda.
"Hosny is serving his ban in league games for an offence he committed in an Etisalat Cup game; this is unbelievable," said Hasek. "It is not easy if you have seven players out and you have to find replacements. We have not had enough time to prepare the team. We played just four days ago. It is going to be a very difficult game for us, but we need to keep fighting. We have lots of hard work ahead."
On paper, the match would seem like an easy outing for the "Red Knights". They are top of the Pro League with 39 points while Khaleej are bottom on 11. Khaleej, however, have beaten Al Nasr and Al Wasl at home and will be desperate to pick up points against Ahli as they battle to stay in the top division. "We are determined to get a positive result in this game," said their coach Basheer Othman. "I hope luck is on our side and we can get three points from the match."
email@example.com Khaleej v Ahli, Abu Dhabi Sports 1, KO 5.55pm