DUBAI // The UAE football team's preparation for the defence of their Gulf Cup crown received a serious blow yesterday after the Competitions Committee of the Professional League Association turned down a plea to postpone the 11th round of the league. The UAE Football Association had requested the PLA to postpone games on Dec 23-24, to the first week of February as they wanted the national team to start their training camp for the Gulf Cup from Dec 22.
The Competition Committee's refusal means the team is likely to assemble on Dec 25, play two friendlies against Iraq (Dec 27) and Kuwait (Dec 30), and then leave for Oman on Jan 2. Yahya Abdul Karim, chairman of the Competitions Committee, said that the interests of the national team were paramount but there was a need to adhere to the league programme, which had been drawn up in consultation with the UAE FA.
"We want to maintain the continuity of the league," he said. "Any changes at this juncture would have gone against the professional nature of the league. It would have also been very difficult to adjust these matches, as the calendar is congested. Postponing the matches would have been unfair on the teams, as new players would have been signed by the clubs in the January transfer window. "Changing the schedule would go against the principle of equal opportunities and hurt the neutrality of the league."
The UAE kick-off the defence of their title on Jan 5 against Yemen. firstname.lastname@example.org