x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Fowler to turn down Ahli offer

The former England player Robbie Fowler owns several properties in Dubai but is unlikely to make a career move to the emirate.

The striker Robbie Fowler seems set to stay with Cardiff City and turn down  the chance to move.
The striker Robbie Fowler seems set to stay with Cardiff City and turn down the chance to move.

The chances of Robbie Fowler playing in the new UAE Pro League next season look to be in doubt as he seems likely to sign a new deal to stay at Cardiff. The former England striker was linked with a move to play at Al Ahli in Dubai next season.

Fowler, 33, had previously considered a move to the Emirates - where he has several properties - but chose Cardiff City when he left Liverpool. And he looks set to stay in Wales under a pay-as-you-play deal for one more season. Fowler's last campaign was ruined by injury and he underwent surgery on a hip injury in December. Despite fears over his fitness, Cardiff are keen to keep him. He scored six goals in 16 games and will provide experience for the Coca-Cola Championship side.

Talks have been ongoing with Cardiff and, despite the Dubai link and what would have been a coup for the Etisalat League side, he is expected to sign the new deal with the Bluebirds. Meanwhile, Al Jazira have lodged a complaint stating that having three players on national duty for three months is jeopardising their preparations for the UAE's ambitious professional league. The club season is scheduled to kick-off from September 13 but three of their key team members will be on national duty starting with a 10-day conditioning camp in Switzerland from Aug 3 before moving to France for the remaining three weeks, including a friendly with Algeria on Aug 20. They may also play Qatar or Bahrain during their European camp and a final warm-up game with Japan, which is still under discussion, on their return to Abu Dhabi.

The UAE face North Korea in a World Cup Asia Zone final round qualifier on Sept 6 followed by a game with Saudi Arabia four days later, both in Abu Dhabi. Al Jazira have written a strong protest to the UAE Football Association stating they are against the rules of FIFA to have players drafted for national team training for more than 72 hours. According to Arabic daily Al Ittihad, the club have insisted that they would not permit any of their players to be away for 107 days with the national team's preparation for the qualifiers.

"We do apologise but we need every player when we prepare ahead of this ground-breaking professional league," the club statement added. "And if we are talking about professionalism, then the UAE FA should abide by the rules, if not we are ready to take this matter to Fifa." Al Jazira will have three players in the national squad - midfielders Abdulla Saleh and Ahmed Dada, and full back Rashid Abdulrahman.

But their neighbours, Al Wahda, have not complained even with five players - Abdulraheem Jumaa, Ismail Matar, Haider Ali, Basheer Saeed and the newly crowned Emirati Player of the Year Mohammed al Shehi - drafted into the national team's summer camp. @Email:akhan@thenational.ae @Email:apassela@thenational.ae