Ahmed Khalil, the brightest young prospect in the country, is definitely out of the UAE's title defence of the Gulf Cup.
Khalil ruled out of UAE cup squad
AL AIN // Ahmed Khalil, the brightest young prospect in the country, is definitely out of the UAE's title defence of the Gulf Cup after failing to recover from the leg injury he suffered in the World Cup qualifying match with Iran last month. Khalil has been replaced by the former captain Mohammed Omar, and the midfielder Abdulsalaam Jumaa has been recalled by the coach Dominique Barthenay in place of Adil Abdulaziz.
Khalil, 17, crowned an unforgettable month by winning the coveted Asian Youth Player of the Year award at the AFC's annual Awards. He was the top scorer at the AFC Under 19 Championship and the tournament's most valuable player. He is only the second player from the Gulf to win the award after Oman's Mohammed Amor took the honour in the inaugural ceremony in 1995. Ivan Hasek, Khalil's coach at Al Ahli, had warned of burn out if the workload on the teenager is not reduced.
"The UAE FA needs to decide what is their priority," said the former Czech international. "The UAE FA needs to decide whether he will play for the Under 20 or the senior national team. He cannot play for both. "This is not physically possible for a 17-year-old. He has got a big future ahead of him and we need to protect him. "If people are not going to respect him and his body, they will wreck his future. If he keeps working hard and stays injury-free, nothing can stop him from a glorious future."
Jumaa, the older brother of the current national team captain Abdulraheem Jumaa, had retired from international duty and was transferred from Al Wahda to Al Jazira for Dh5million. The team began their training camp in Al Ain on Monday where they play Iraq in a friendly at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium on Saturday and Kuwait at Dubai's Al Nasr club's Al Maktoum Stadium on Tuesday. They fly to Muscat on Jan 2 and face Yemen on the second day of the competition on Jan 5.