By Fidelis Ebu
Two players from the United Arab Emirate have fallen to the magnetic resonance imaging test carried out on virtually all players in the on-going FIFA Under-17 World Cup in the country.
The players â€“ Mohamed Hussain and Haddaf â€“ spotting jersey numbers nine and 15 respectively, were not successful in the MRI scan carried out by FIFA medical officials on the players prior to the kick off of the tournament.
The Gulf side tackled Malawi yesterday in Kano in their first group game without the two key players.
FIFA media officer for the cadet championship, Wlofgang Resch, had earlier declined comment on the MRI test results, saying the tests were inconclusive.
But yesterday the global football governing body came out with part of the result that ruled out Hussain, a midfielder and Haddaf from the United Arab Emirate team.
â€œThe players have been sanctioned from their respective qualification tournaments in their confederationsâ€, FIFA official said yesterday.
It was learnt yesterday that UAEâ€™s strength lies in midfield where they are bossed by Fahad Salim, with Haddaf Al Ameri adding the flair. Salim became the teamâ€™s top scorer in qualifying with four goals, including a brace scored in the all-important quarter-final clash against Australia. Al Ameri is already being heralded as the next Ismail Matar due to his skilful touch of the ball.
The teamâ€™s Coach Ali Ebrahim, has vowed to achieve good results with the team at Nigeria 2009. â€œWe are looking forward to the World Cup and weâ€™re preparing well to showcase the progress UAE has made over the years.â€
Remarkably, one has to go back 18 years for United Arab Emiratesâ€™ last and only appearance at a FIFA U_17 World Cup, after they finished runners_up during Asian qualifying to book themselves a place at Italy 1991.
But their debut at the global showpiece left the Gulf side with few reasons to cheer, as they gained only a single point from their three group games.
The UAEâ€™s U_17 sideâ€™s road to the global stage was a little bumpy. After a lackluster 1_1 draw with Yemen in their opening match, they were thrashed 6_1 at the hands of defending champions Japan. Only a 3_2 win over Malaysia sent them through to the last eight, where they raised their game to stun highly_rated Australia 3_2 to secure their spot at the finals.