DUBAI // Faisal Khalil could make his return to top-level football tonight when Al Ahli host Al Shaab in the Pro League. Khalil pulled out of both club and UAE national team duties in September, citing "personal reasons". He returned to training this week and could get a place in the starting line-up. "He has been training all week and looked good, so he could be playing a part in the game," said coach Ivan Hasek.
Faisal's brother Ahmed Khalil, the top scorer and Most Valuable Player in the AFC Under 19 Championship, will not be playing as he has been given time off to rest after a hectic three weeks, where he took part in the tournament in Saudi Arabia and the 2010 World Cup qualifier against Iran with the senior national team. He also has to leave for Shanghai for the AFC Annual Awards Gala tomorrow. The teenager has been nominated for the Youth Player of the Year award after the U19's Championship triumph. Uzbekistan's Sherzodbek Karimov and the South Korean Lee Jong Ho are the other players in contention.
Ismail Matar, the Al Wahda and national team player, will also be travelling to Shanghai, hoping to win the AFC Player of the Year award. Uzbekistan's Server Djeparov, the Japanese duo Yasuhito Endo and Yuji Nakazawa, and Sebastian Soria of Qatar are the other Asian players up for the award. Shaab have been struggling this season and have just four points from six games, but Hasek warned against under- estimating the "Commandos".
"We have to approach the match with all seriousness," he said. "We have to make sure we get the three points." Ahli, who top the table with 15 points, will be without Ali Abbas, who is awaiting his punishment from the UAE Football Association after breaking a curfew with the national team. email@example.com