Controversial Shamrani ruled out of Asian Cup

AFP| Updated: Jan 10, 2015, 09:25 AM IST
Controversial Shamrani ruled out of Asian Cup

Controversial striker Nassir Al Shamrani was ruled out of the Asian Cup with an abdominal injury Friday on the eve of Saudi Arabia`s opening game against China.

The feared forward, who sparked a melee at the end of the AFC Champions League final in November, is out with an abdominal injury and will be replaced by Al Nasr midfielder Ibrahim Ghaleb in the Saudi squad, officials said.

The Al Hilal striker is deeply unpopular with Australian fans after he aimed a headbutt and spat at Western Sydney Wanderers defender Matthew Spiranovic at the club final in November, prompting a mass shoving match.

The "Saudi destroyer" was handed an eight-match Champions League ban for his actions -- but not before he had been named Asian player of the year for his 10 goals in the tournament.

Al Shamrani`s stocks plummeted still further in Australia after he appeared to shove a fan on his way out of the tunnel ahead of this month`s friendly with Bahrain in Geelong.

His loss is a major blow to Saudi Arabia`s efforts to win a fourth Asian Cup title after victories in 1984, 1988 and 1996.