Abu Dhabi: The UAE Football Association has asked the Asian Football Confederation to postpone the AFC Champions League final first leg between Al Ain and South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on Saturday, November 19 by two days.
This is due to the fact that several of Al Ain’s players, including their instrumental playmaker Omar Abdul Rahman, will be on international duty for the UAE just four days before the showdown in Jeonju.
As such, the UAE FA are concerned that the South Koreans would have an unfair advantage in preparing for the final.
The UAE are set to host Iraq in their fourth Group B qualifier in the third and final Asian qualification phase for the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia.
The Al Ain players in the Whites squad would therefore have little time to acclimatise to South Korean conditions after the November 15 game in Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile, the Jeonbuk players in South Korea’s squad face the easier task of a home World Cup qualifier for their country against Uzbekistan in Seoul on the same day.
UAE FA chiefs had also asked their Iraqi counterparts if they would agree to bring forward their game by a day, but it is understood that they refused.
In any case, it is unlikely that the AFC could sanction any switch given the TV and marketing rights in place for long-agreed dates for World Cup qualifiers.
Al Ain are bidding to win the AFC Champions League for the second time after their triumph in the inaugural edition in 2003 when they beat Thailand’s BEC Tero Sasana 2-1 on aggregate.
They remain the UAE’s sole winners of the tournament and reached this year’s final with a 5-3 aggregate victory over Qatar’s El Jaish on Tuesday evening.