x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Cannavaro will be back for big game against Jazira

Had the President's Cup not intervened, Cannavaro would have missed a riveting home match with the Pro League table-toppers on Friday.

When Fabio Cannavaro, the former Italian international and 2060 Fifa World Player of the Year who plays for Al Ahli, was shown his third yellow card in three Pro League matches, he faced a mandatory one-game suspension. Fortuitously, for Cannavaro and Ahli, the captain was able to serve his suspension in perhaps the least daunting match the Dubai side will play this season - against Al Rams of Division One in the opening round of the President's Cup.

Had the national tournament not intervened, Cannavaro would have missed a riveting home match with Pro League table-topping Al Jazira on Friday. Now, he can play, having served his time while his teammates strolled past Al Rams 4-0 at Ajman on Monday. Cherie Mansfield, the marketing and communications manager for the Pro League, said that disciplinary actions "carry across both competitions". Which works out neatly for the Pro League. The league's best-known and most-expensive player (at Dh22.5 million per year) will be available to play in the Ahli defence against the visitors from Abu Dhabi.

Cannavaro, 37, may not have minded missing the Rams match in what amounted to an extra fixture for the country's teams. He was booked for remonstrating with the referee in the last seconds of a draw at Kalba. The Italian now has one yellow from each of his three matches in the Pro League: for a handball at Dhafra, for grabbing an attacking player's shirt versus Al Wasl and for dissent at Kalba. A similar scenario played out for Khalid Sabeel, Jazira's right-back. Sabeel picked up his third yellow against Al Wahda last weekend, and his suspension came during a 7-0 rout of Ras al Khaimah on Monday. He, too, ought to be well-rested for the Ahli-Jazira match.